Rep. Torres Votes to Secure Equal Pay for Women, Help Close Gender Wage Gap

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Torres voted to pass H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, landmark legislation that will help close the gender wage gap by strengthening equal pay protections for women.  The bill would create more effective remedies for women who are not being paid equal pay for equal work, including requiring employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons, new tools for the Department of Labor to enforce pay equity and protections against retaliation for workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose wages. 

The bill includes an amendment introduced by Rep. Torres’ that would require a review on the gender wage gap in the teenage workforce. With the inclusion of this amendment this landmark legislation will address systemic factors that have contributed to paycheck fairness among teenagers. 

“It is unacceptable that a woman still makes, on average, 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man. This is not simply a women’s issue, it is a family issue.” said Rep. Torres. “When women bring home less money, it means their families suffer the consequences as well. I am proud to have voted today to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, ensuring equal pay including my amendment requiring a review on the gender wage gap in the teenage workforce.”

Nearly six decades after Congress enacted the 1963 Equal Pay Act, there is still a serious wage gap based on gender and race.  Full-time working women earn only 82 cents, on average, for every dollar a man earns, which amounts to an annual disparity of $10,157 and a career disparity of more than $400,000.  The gap is even larger for women of color: on average, Black women earn just 63 cents, Native American women just 60 cents and Latinas just 55 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man earns.

To help close this gap, the Paycheck Fairness Act strengthens the protections and closes the loopholes in the Equal Pay Act.  The bill would:

  • Require employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons and ban retaliation against workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose their wages.
  • Prohibit employers from relying on salary history in determining future pay, so that pay discrimination does not follow women from job to job.
  • Improve the Department of Labor’s tools for enforcing the Equal Pay Act and ensure women can receive the same robust remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are currently available to those subjected to pay discrimination based on race and ethnicity.
  • Provide assistance to all businesses to help them with their equal pay practices and create a negotiation skills training program to help women negotiate higher pay.

“While breaking new ground for gender equity, the 1963 Equal Pay Act has not done enough to ensure that women are paid the same as men for equal work,” Rep. Torres continued.  “I am proud to have voted for this historic legislation, which will significantly strengthen and modernize equal pay protections by banning retaliation against workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose their wages, offering effective remedies for women who learn they are not receiving equal pay and placing the burden on employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons.  Now, we look forward to working with the Democratic Senate and President Biden to enact this bill and bring the country one step closer to equality for women in the workplace.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act passed on a bipartisan vote in the Democratic-led House in the previous Congress.  However, the bill died in the Senate after the Republican-controlled chamber refused to bring it up for a vote

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