State Reps. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today announced the introduction of the Ohio Equal Pay Act, a bill that would help close the longstanding gender pay gap between men and women in the Buckeye State.
“Too often, women with the same jobs as men and with the same education as men are paid less than men, see fewer opportunities for career advancement and are more likely to struggle to meet the basic needs of their families,” said Rep. Clyde. “The Ohio Equal Pay Act works to address the systemic undervaluing of women in the workplace and aims to ensure women are treated as what they are— equal.”
In Ohio, the average working woman is paid only 75 percent of what her male counterpart gets paid, regardless of educational background and job description. For women of color, the discrepancy is worse. African American women are paid only 63 cents and Latina women are paid only 54 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
“The Ohio Equal Pay Act is important because women across Ohio are giving their all, both in the workplace and in the home, and are being paid less than they’re worth,” said Rep. Howse. “More women than ever before are the primary breadwinner for their families. Without equal pay, these families are living with a financial deficit they will never make up. Equal pay isn’t just right for women, it’s right for families and our economy as a whole.”
The Ohio Equal Pay Act will require businesses who contract with the state of Ohio to obtain an Equal Pay Certificate, which would certify that the employer offers the same opportunities to its employees, regardless of gender. The bill will also prohibit gag orders on employees that keep them from discussing their salaries with each other. Finally, the Ohio Equal Pay Act will require government entities to evaluate their pay scales to ensure compensation is similar across job categories for positions requiring similar skills, responsibilities and working conditions.
“Women in Ohio deserve to know what they’re making in relation to their peers. That’s why the Ohio Equal Pay Act is so important,” said Erin Ryan, policy analyst at Innovation Ohio and manager of the Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network. “Knowing that your contributions are valued and compensated based on your skills and responsibilities rather than your gender should be a given in the workplace.”
Earlier this week, the United States observed Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date that represents how far into the new year the average woman needs to work to make what her male counterpart did the year before. It took until April 4, 2017, 94 extra days, for women to earn what men earned in 2016. Equal Pay Days for black and Latina women won’t occur until much later this year.
“Our research at The Women’s Fund definitively shows that women suffer economic insecurity because of unequal pay,” said Nichole E. Dunn, president and CEO of The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. “This bill will provide opportunities for Ohio women to be on equal footing by breaking down antiquated barriers to equal pay. I applaud the creative work of these women leaders in the statehouse. When women lead, we all do better.”
After introduction, the bill will be referred to a House committee, where it will await its first hearing.