Rally pushes for wage equality across genders

Advocates gather in support of Equal Pay for Equal Work bill

Posted 4/10/19

Three additional months is how much extra time the National Committee on Pay Equity states that it takes the average woman in a full-time job to earn the same amount the average man in a full-time …

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Rally pushes for wage equality across genders

Advocates gather in support of Equal Pay for Equal Work bill

Posted

Three additional months is how much extra time the National Committee on Pay Equity states that it takes the average woman in a full-time job to earn the same amount the average man in a full-time job earns in a year.

“Colorado women and their families deserve better,” said Catherine Shea, president of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association. “Pay inequity will not end unless employers take intentional steps to address it.”

On April 2, recognized as 2019’s Equal Pay Day, advocates gathered on the steps of the Colorado Capitol to show support for SB 19-085, the Equal Pay For Equal Work Act bill.

The bill, which is currently making its way through the state Legislature, would implement measures to prevent pay disparities.

The bill passed in the Colorado State Senate by a 20-to-14 vote on April 4, and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The bill’s prime sponsors are Sen. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood; Sen. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge; Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora; and Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver.

“Women are going to have leverage that they’ve never had before,” said Pettersen, during the rally.

The biggest pieces of the bill, she added, involve changing the conversation with employers.

According to a news release, the bill would require companies to notify all qualified employees about job advancement opportunities and salary range, employers would be forbidden to ask for the previous salary history of a prospective employee and any employee would be allowed to take legal action if they believe their wage differential is based on gender. To be exempt from the latter, an employer would have to “demonstrate that a pay gap is based on seniority, merit or a difference in quantity or quality of work.”

According to figures about the state provided by the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, white women earn 86 cents for every dollar men make, black women earn 63 cents for every dollar men make and Latina and Hispanic women make 53 cents for every dollar men make.

Women, and even more so women of color, are forced to accept lower wages, are discouraged from talking about wages and negotiating for higher pay and do not have resources readily available to determine that they experiencing wage discrimination to begin with, said Ashley Panelli, a community organizer with 9to5, a national grassroots membership organization that advocates for women’s equality.

“But the more we speak out about workplace discrimination, the easier it will become to remedy,” Panelli said.

SB 19-085, she added, is a step in the right direction to ensure that all women are recognized as equally contributing members of society.

This bill is for the future for all Colorado women, Danielson said.

“It’s time to act now,” she said at the rally. “Not only is it the right thing to do, it will put billions back in the Colorado economy and help Coloradans save for the future.”

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