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Women lawmakers say Ohio can't wait for Equal Pay

Gender pay disparity persists on seventh anniversary of Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
January 29, 2016
Democrat Newsroom

Marking the seventh anniversary of the federal Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Ohio House Democratic Women Democratic (OHDWC) lawmakers today highlighted efforts underway in the legislature that would level the economic playing field for women in Ohio, including “Equal Pay for Equal Work” legislation. 

“A lot has changed for families, women and workplaces since the 1950s. It is time to stop treating women only as homemakers and recognize the fundamental leadership roles we hold in the corporations, public service and the family unit,” said OHDWC Chair and State Rep. Fedor (D-Toledo). “Equal pay for equal work is a keystone of our American values of freedom and fairness. It is time for our state to take the lead and show women, families and the nation that equal pay can’t wait.” 

In Ohio, women earn 78 cents for every dollar paid to men for doing the same job, amounting to a yearly wage gap of $10,805 between men and women who work full time in the state. This adds up to more than 15 months of rent, and almost two years worth of food for a family.

“It has now been seven years since the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and I am grateful for its passage,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “Unfortunately, in 2016 women in Ohio are still not receiving equal pay for equal work. The Ledbetter Act has helped protect women from pay discrimination at the federal level, now it is time to bring pay equality to Ohio.”

Women Democratic lawmakers in the House put forward two options for ending pay discrimination in Ohio this year. House Bill 330, sponsored by Reps. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) would prohibit gag orders on employees which keep them from talking about their salaries with one another. It would also require vendors who do business with the state to obtain an equal pay certificate indicating that they pay female employees equal wages and that no wage gap exists in any job class and that women at the companies are given equal opportunity for career advancement.

“Too many women in Ohio take jobs where their worth is undervalued from the start. It’s a deficit they can’t make up,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent). “By enacting some common sense reforms like requiring equal pay certificates and prohibiting gag orders, we can begin to close the wage gap and give Ohio women the peace of mind that when they take a job their gender won’t determine their pay.” 

House Bill 385, sponsored by Reps. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and Howse would create a Gender Pay Disparity Task Force to determine the extent of the pay disparity between men and women in Ohio; identify the causes of such disparity; develop recommendations for legislative action to decrease pay disparity; and issue a report of its findings and recommendations. The lawmakers hope the bill might be able to pick up support from the other side of the aisle in order to get it passed through the Republican-controlled legislature. 

“Women are making significant contributions in the workplace, but their wages remain persistently lower than their male counterparts,” said Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-Albany). “When women aren’t paid equally, whole families suffer and struggle. To support Ohio families, we must ensure women are receiving the wages they have rightfully earned.” 

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act The legislation, signed into law by President Obama in 2009, which expanded the time that an employee can file a claim against an employer for acts of gender pay discrimination, reversing the narrow window established by Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The lawmakers noted this federal success, but stated that the State of Ohio has a long way to go toward economic equality for women.