On average, women make 78 cents for every dollar men make. Even though the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which will make it easier for employees to challenge pay discrimination in court, is now law, it alone is not enough to deter employers from paying women lower salaries than men for equal work.

The Paycheck Fairness Act will amend and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which was designed to abolish pay disparities based on gender, by closing loopholes that made it hard for employees to prove pay discrimination and forbidding employers from retaliating against employees that share salary information. It passed the House in January at the same time as the Ledbetter bill, but is still pending in the Senate.

The Act will also make it possible for employees that have been discriminated against on the basis of gender will be able to seek unlimited compensatory and punitive damages. Currently, only employees that are discriminated against for race or national origin are able to do so. The EPA only provides for back pay awards and liquidated damages, which is a sum to be paid in the event a contract is broken that is agreed upon by both parties before the contract is signed.

Deborah Vagins, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that this will help women of color who often can not isolate whether their discrimination is the result of race or gender. African-American women earn 67 cents for every dollar that White men do, and Hispanic women earn approximately 58 cents for every dollar that White men do.

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