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Pay Equity Matters: Mind the Gap

A few months ago, Kamala Harris unveiled an ambitious plan to introduce stricter legal measures to force employers to comply with pay equity standards. Fellow senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has now announced her own pay equity plan that she would push were to she capture the White House in 2020. Warren’s plan, released on July 5, would promote pay equity – with a special focus on aiding women of color – by imposing new federal contractor rules and strengthening enforcement against systemic discrimination.

If a prominent candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president has her way, federal pay equity law would be strengthened to add some real teeth—and the spoils of the increased financial penalties would fund a national leave policy. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) unveiled a plan on Monday that would require employers to receive affirmative certification from the EEOC that they are in compliance with federal pay equity law, or risk facing a fine equal to 1 percent of their profits for every 1 percent of the wage gap that exists between genders. The fines collected would then be invested in building universal paid family and medical leave. This is the boldest proposal taken to date by any presidential candidate vying for a shot at the White House in 2020, and may spur the current slate of candidates to begin a substantive conversation about pay equity on the national stage.

For all of the progressive legal advances in the area of pay equity we have seen across the country in recent years, a new report just released by an economic thinktank suggests that the wage gap is not only still present, but that is actually worsening as we head into a new year. The Economic Policy Institute's February 20 report, “State of Working America Wages 2018,” forebodingly notes that wage inequality “marches on”— and doesn't seem to be letting up. What do employers need to know about this latest information?

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