Reps. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park) today introduced the Ohio Equal Pay Act, legislation to recognize the full value and potential of Ohio’s working women. The announcement comes as advocates commemorate Equal Pay Day, the date to which the average working woman in America must work into the next calendar year to make what their male counterparts did the previous year. For women in Ohio, that annual pay gap is nearly $10,000.
Reps. Howse and Miranda held a virtual Equal Pay Day discussion on Wednesday during which they were joined by several Ohio working women, who shared their stories and contributed to the nationwide conversation on addressing pay equity for women. The event can be viewed on the Ohio House Dems Facebook page.
“Ohio’s gender wage gap continues to hold back women, families and our economy. We can’t get ahead as a state if half of our workforce is undervalued and underpaid,” said Rep. Howse. “We need real, commonsense reforms to restore our promise as an opportunity state where everyone who works hard, regardless of gender, has a shot at the American Dream.”
The Ohio Equal Pay Act would:
· Prohibit gag orders on employees that keep them from talking about their salaries with one another.
· Require vendors who do business with the state to obtain an Equal Pay Certificate, certifying that women at the companies are given equal opportunity for career advancement.
· Require government entities to evaluate their employees’ pay scales to ensure compensation is based on skills, responsibilities and working conditions across job categories.
“The Ohio Equal Pay Act will take crucial and long overdue steps to close the gender and racial wealth gap that currently hurts too many working families in Ohio,” said Rep. Miranda. “I’m proud to put forward legislation that will advance economic justice, give women the paychecks they deserve, and make Ohio a more business and worker friendly state for everyone.”
The average woman in Ohio earns 82 cents to every $1 a man makes, regardless of educational background and job description. For minority women, the discrepancy is worse. Nationally, Black women are paid only 63 cents and Latina women are paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women currently comprise half the U.S. workforce, and two-thirds of mothers bring home at least a quarter of their families’ earnings each year.
After receiving a bill number, the Ohio Equal Pay Act will be assigned to a committee for its initial hearings.