This week, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked up to 1.6 million women from suing Walmart for sex discrimination in a class action lawsuit. The court's 5-4 conservative majority sided with business over women, claiming that Walmart's well-documented wage and hiring disparities are coincidences and not a result of a persistent culture of discrimination.
This is unacceptable. In the U.S. today, women are paid only 78 cents on the dollar that men make. If the highest court in the land won't protect women from discrimination in the workplace, then we must stand together and demand action from Congress.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would accomplish several important things including:
- Close loopholes in The Equal Pay Act to ensure that employers have a legitimate business reason for paying women less for the same work
- Prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who discuss their salary with co-workers
- Update the Equal Pay Act to make it more in line with the class action procedures available under other anti-discrimination laws
- Level the playing field for employers, so those that pay fairly are not at a disadvantage.
But this issue is not just about fairness. Achieving equal pay for women is also about economic recovery and rebuilding the American middle class. If women were paid what men are for equal work, America's GDP would rise by up to 9 points. Since women are often the primary breadwinners and caretakers for families, a rise in their pay would mean a higher quality of life for their children.
Women are now a majority of the workforce and they earn graduate degrees in larger numbers than men. Women are the economic drivers of our economy yet we are still discriminated against every day because more often than not, men are the ones in the boardrooms and the executive suites making the hiring decisions.
That's why I created Off The Sidelines, to make women aware of these disparities and the necessity that they get more involved in the issues that affect them every day. As a first step, please speak out by adding your name to the petition at OffTheSidelines.org/EqualPay.
Thanks for standing up for equal pay for women. We have a long way to go but together we can work to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and take an important first step toward revitalizing our economy and achieving fairness for women in the workplace.
Follow Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenGillibrand