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PA Lawmakers Introduce Pay Equity Legislation for Women

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Monday Jan 13, 2014

On January 6, as part of a larger effort to address the concerns of Pennsylvania women, state Reps. Erin Molchany, D-Allegheny, and Brian Sims, D-Phila., introduced a bill to clarify and update the legal standards for pay-equity lawsuits. The bill is one of seven new pieces of legislation sponsored by the legislature's Women's Health Caucus as part of their Pennsylvania Agenda for Women's Health.

"The average woman earns 84 cents for every dollar a man makes. In the Pittsburgh region, the wage gap is closer to 73 cents per dollar," Molchany said. "While the entirety of the wage gap can't be blamed on discrimination, the fact that any of it could be attributed to someone's sex demands attention."

House Bill 1890 would update the conditions under which employers could pay different wages because of a factor other than sex. These factors would include specific, job-related attributes such as education, training and experience. The bill would also strengthen anti-retaliation protections for employees attempting to bring a pay-equity lawsuit against their employer and those who share information about their pay.

"Pay-equity laws have been around for 40 or more years. Clearly it's time to strengthen and update them to bring about real pay equity for the many working women in Pennsylvania who are still shortchanged," Sims said. "We live in a country that guarantees each of us full equality under the law. Right now, in this country and in this state, more than half of our population is being insidiously discriminated against. This bill is long overdue."

House Bill 1890, which was introduced with 45 bipartisan cosponsors, is a part of a larger package of bills supported by the Pennsylvania General Assembly's Women's Health Caucus. Caucus co-chair Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, said that the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women's Health represents a diverse cross-section of issues and concerns facing women today by presenting a collection of bills based on what women want in regard to their own health.

"The agenda is not just about reproductive health," Molchany said. "It's about economic justice, support for families, and making Pennsylvania a national leader in supporting all of its citizens with the tools to succeed."

This legislation also includes workplace accommodations for pregnant women, sanitary conditions for nursing mothers, increased eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings, protections for domestic violence victims and a ban on intimate partner harassment (often referred to as "revenge porn").

"Protecting women's health is a bipartisan concern, and it is important to work together to ensure women receive the services and care they need," McIlhinney said. "I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground on these issues and take action on initiatives to advance women's health."

The Women's Health Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators partnering with interest groups and advocacy organizations seeking to develop and implement legislation and social policy that protects and respects a woman's right to make private, personal medical decisions.

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Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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