Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Representing the 18th District of TEXAS

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Statement on the Introduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act

Feb 4, 2019
Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                 Contact: Robin Chand

January 30, 2019                                                                                  (202) 225–3816

 

Press Statement

 

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Statement on the Introduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act

Jackson Lee: “As a Member of the Women’s Caucus I have been fighting for pay equity for American women since before I arrived here as a Representative in 1995, and I believe that equal pay for equal work is a simple matter of justice.  Wage disparities are not simply a result of women’s education levels or life choices.  In fact, the pay gap between college educated men and women appears first after college—even when women are working full-time in the same fields with the same major as men—and continues to widen during the first 10 years in the workforce.”

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget, issued this statement on the introduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act:

 

“In America, Women working full-time, year-round still earn 80 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by men.  Women of color face the brunt of the inequality, with African American women earning 61 cents, Latinas earning 53 cents, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women earning 62 cents compared with white, non-Hispanic men.  This year marks the 10-year anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the Lily Ledbetter Act, which made it easier to sue in cases of pay discrimination.  This legislation – the Paycheck Fairness Act – is one small step towards that end.  The Paycheck Fairness Act, will strengthen the Equal Pay Act—passed more than 45 years ago—and as a result improve the law’s effectiveness, and help to address the persistent wage gap between men and women.  I am proud to be a sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act. 

 

“This Act is needed to stop discriminatory pay practices by employers against our mothers, wives, daughters, and granddaughters that do the same job as their male counterparts.  The Paycheck Fairness Act would clarify acceptable reasons for differences in pay by requiring employers to demonstrate that wage gaps between men and women doing the same work are truly a result of factors other than sex; and deter wage discrimination by strengthening penalties for equal pay violations, and by prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages.

 

“The bill’s measured approach would ensure that women can obtain the same remedies as those subject to discrimination on the basis of race or national origin. It would provide women with a fair option to proceed in a class action suit under the Equal Pay Act, and allow women to receive punitive and compensatory damages for pay discrimination.  It would also clarify the establishment provision under the Equal Pay Act, which would allow for reasonable comparisons between employees to determine fair wages.  The bill would authorize additional training for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission staff to better identify and handle wage disputes.  The bill will aid in the efficient and effective enforcement of federal anti-pay discrimination laws by requiring the EEOC to develop regulations directing employers to collect wage data, reported by the race, sex, and national origin of employees.  It would also require the U.S. Department of Labor to reinstate activities that promote equal pay, such as: directing educational programs, providing technical assistance to employers, recognizing businesses that address the wage gap, collecting wage-related data, at conducting and promoting research about pay disparities between men and women.

 

“More importantly for our young ladies going into the workforce it will establish a competitive grant program to develop salary negotiation training for women and girls.  As a Member of the Women’s Caucus I have been fighting for pay equity for American women since before I arrived here as a Representative in 1995, and I believe that equal pay for equal work is a simple matter of justice.  Wage disparities are not simply a result of women’s education levels or life choices.  In fact, the pay gap between college educated men and women appears first after college—even when women are working full-time in the same fields with the same major as men—and continues to widen during the first 10 years in the workforce.

 

“Further, this persistent wage gap not only impacts the economic security of women and their families today, it also directly affects women’s retirement security tomorrow.  Now is the time for additional proactive measures to effectively address wage discrimination and eliminate loopholes that have hindered the Equal Pay Act’s effectiveness.  I urge my colleagues, both men and women to support equality in rights and pay for all Americans by supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act.”

 

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Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing the 18th Congressional District of Texas, is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security and the Budget.