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Murray Cosponsors Paycheck Fairness Act to Help End Wage Discrimination

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee released the following statement on the reintroduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would help close the wage gap between women and men working the same jobs. The legislation was reintroduced by Senator Barbra Mikulski (D-MD) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). Senator Murray is an original cosponsor of the legislation.

“The Paycheck Fairness Act is a critical step in ensuring women finally get equal pay for equal work and an important part of our work to grow the economy from the middle out, not the top down,” said Senator Murray. “Far too many women across the country face pay discrimination on the job, where their hard work is valued less than their male counterparts, and that’s unacceptable. It’s well past time to close the persistent pay gap, especially because women’s success in the workforce is critical to families’ financial security and broad-based economic growth. Senator Mikulski has been such a strong leader in this effort, and I am hopeful that we can finally get it done.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act builds upon the landmark Equal Pay Act signed into law in 1963 by closing loopholes that have kept it from achieving its goal of equal pay. The bill would require employers to show pay disparity is truly related to job-performance, not gender.

It also prohibits employer retaliation for sharing salary information with coworkers. Under current law employers can sue and punish employees for sharing such information. In addition, it strengthens remedies for pay discrimination by increasing compensation women can seek, allowing them to seek both back pay and punitive damages for pay discrimination.

The bill empowers women in the workplace through a grant program to strengthen salary negotiation and other workplace skills, and requires the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training efforts to eliminate pay disparities.

President Obama’s first bill, signed into law on January 29, 2009, was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which overturned the 180-day statute of limitations for women to contest pay discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act would close the loopholes that allow pay discrimination to continue in the first place and, with Ledbetter, provide employees the rights they need to challenge and eliminate pay discrimination in the workplace.

The bill has been endorsed by President Obama, Lilly Ledbetter and a coalition of over 300 advocacy groups.