State Reps. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today announced the introduction of House Bill 330, the Ohio Equal Pay Act. The legislation aims to address the persistent problem of unequal pay between women and men.
In 2015, Ohio women are paid 78 cents for every $1 a man makes. Minority women suffer the worst disparity. Nationally, black women are paid 63 cents and Hispanic and Latina women are paid 54 cents for every $1 paid to white men.
“We have a duty to eliminate the problem of women being systemically undervalued and underpaid for their work,” said Rep. Clyde. “There are many benefits that will come from raising women’s pay such as greater family security and stability, lower poverty rates, economic growth from greater spending, and less stress on public safety net programs. This legislation contains creative ways to attack the unequal pay problem and should get a hearing as soon as possible.”
The Ohio Equal Pay Act targets devaluation of women’s work and addresses causes of the pay gap other than blatant discrimination. The bill has three major components:
- It requires state and local governments to determine the value of comparable work across job categories and to eliminate lower pay that is sometimes associated with “women’s work.” Value of the work is measured across job categories as a composite of the skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions normally required in the performance of the work. Women in Minnesota saw their wages increase by 9% after this policy was implemented.
- It requires businesses that receive state contracts or state economic incentive funds to be certified with an Equal Pay Certificate indicating that women employees at the company have access to the same opportunities and pay as their male counterparts as well as information from the company about how their salaries compare with male employees.
- It prohibits retaliation against employees in any employment actions – such as hiring, firing, and promotion decisions – for sharing salary information amongst themselves.
“We are in the year 2015 and it’s time that women are paid the same as men,” said Rep. Howse. “There is no excuse as to why this isn’t already happening. If women are doing the same job or a similarly demanding job as their male counterparts, they should be paid the same. It’s just that simple. I hope with this legislation we can begin to make strides toward women being treated fairly in the workplace.”
Keary McCarthy, President of Innovation Ohio, stood with the legislators and women from the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio in support saying, "It’s time to get workplace policies that affect women and families out of the Mad Men era and into the modern era. Today, women are the sole, primary or co-bread winners in over two-thirds of Ohio families and unequal pay for equal work must end.”
Many people believe the pay gap is due to women choosing lower-paying jobs, but women do not choose this. In fact, lower pay for women is the result of a system that devalues women’s work compared with men’s. Women are over-represented in low-wage jobs making up two thirds of workers making $10.50 per hour or less. Even within this low-wage category of jobs, women are paid less than men.