Yesterday, Vermont passed a law that deals with a huge barrier to fighting workplace discrimination, punitive pay secrecy policies. Over 61 percent of private-sector workers prohibit or discourage discussions on wages amongst coworkers. Yet, comparing wages is one of the easiest ways to know if you are getting less than your due. When employees don't know how they compare to others, they may not even realize they are being paid less.
Vermont's law provides crucial elements to remove that barrier. It prevents employers from conditioning employment on an employees' promise not to disclose, inquire, or discuss their wages.
Last week we submitted comments in opposition to The Working Families Flexibility Act, the “comp time in lieu of overtime” bill that went to the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections for a markup last Wednesday. And now we can’t get the song “Promises, Promises” out of our heads.
You made me promises, promises You knew you'd never keep Promises, promises Why do I believe?
The Working Families Flexibility Act is filled with empty promises. Instead of providing flexibility, it would take hard-earned overtime pay out of workers’ pockets in exchange for the elusive promise of compensatory time off. While the bill’s supporters claim that there is nothing coercive about offering a comp time alternative to overtime pay, they do so against a backdrop of rampant violations of low-wage workers’ rights to overtime. In a study of low-wage workers in major cities, 76% said they worked overtime without being paid time and one-half. It is a safe bet that enacting a comp time law would give rise to a whole new category of wage and hour abuses.
Equal Pay Day – the day in the year when women’s wages finally catch up to men’s from the previous year – is finally here. That it took 92 days into 2013 for this day to arrive is downright depressing.
For those readers too busy working hard for 77 cents on the dollar to read our extensive policy analysis released for the occasion, here is the CliffsNotes version of what you need to know.
What’s behind the wage gap?
There are a number of factors that contribute to unfair pay for women: Some of the key culprits are discrimination resulting in lower pay for women doing the same jobs as men, occupational segregation of women into low-paying jobs that are devalued precisely because they are done by women, the economic hit that women still take for providing care to their families due to the lack of employer or government-provided paid leave and paid sick days, and racial disparities.
On average, women make less than men make. We know this: it is well-documented; there are laws in place to prevent it. You can find differences among states here and helpful FAQs here.
Opponents of pay fairness legislation try to explain away the wage gap; they claim it is a matter of individual choice. Women work fewer hours, take time off for children, and “prefer” certain fields. But did you know that recent college graduates – women who are young, relatively inexperienced, often without children – face pay discrimination just like older women? From the beginning of their careers, women earn less than men. Even with average higher GPAs, women still make less than men. According to the report, women recent graduates, on average, make only $35,296 to men’s $42,918 (82% of men’s wages).