MANCHESTER, N.H. - As a father of two amazing girls, there is one thing I hope they will never have to deal with, and we can make that happen today.
There is no denying that in spite of our best efforts, women continue to be discriminated against in the workplace. The proof is in the paycheck. Women on average are paid 77 cents for every dollar a similarly qualified man makes. This is outrageous and should be stopped immediately.
Legislators in the past have tried to correct this atrocity by passing the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The Equal Pay Act was a good start, however it is obvious that the problem did no go away.
A 2004 Census Bureau study compared the earnings of men and women in over 500 occupations and found that women earn less in jobs from business executive to dishwasher.
The problem is the Equal Pay Act has loopholes that continue to allow female workers to be paid unequal wages.
Many of these loopholes revolve around the fact the women do not know what their male counterpart actually makes. In some companies the employer has actually prohibited workers from discussing their pay. How is a woman, or a man for that matter, supposed to know if they are being paid differently if they are not free to discuss their wages with co-workers?
In a 2010 study we learned that 1-in-4 private sector workers are employed in companies that have punitive policies against employees who disclose their personal pay rates. The same study found that another 38 percent said their managers actively discourage workers from talking about their wage with other workers. Over 60 percent of the workers surveyed are being told not to discuss their wages.
This is why we must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in New Hampshire. This new legislation would continue to strengthen the Equal Pay Act and add new prohibitions against employment policies that punish workers for discussing their wages with others.
Some people say that we do not need this type of legislation. They say that this just does not happen. I say then pass the bill and prove that it does not happen. Pass the bill and see if anyone challenges his or her employer for wrongdoing under this new law. If an employer is not doing anything wrong, paying their employees equally, then this law will have zero effect on them.
It is the employers that know they are violating the rules, and have policies set up to punish workers for discussing their pay that are fighting the passage of this bill.
The next time someone tells you they oppose this ask them two simple questions:
1. What are you hiding?
2. Do you have any daughters? How do you feel knowing that they will be making 1/3 less than a man solely because they are female?
I teach my girls that nothing should ever hold them back, and I hope by the time they reach "working age" that the wage gap will be ancient history.
This article was originally published at NH Labor News.