Unequal pay hits families in the pocketbook and slows down our economy. The average Washington woman working full-time brings home $18,000 less each year than the average man. That keeps families strapped, reduces spending in local businesses, and helps explain why 19 percent of our state’s children live in poverty. It also limits women’s ability to invest in education or starting a business, and results in less retirement income.
Washington state has prohibited wage discrimination based on sex since 1943, but existing laws are insufficient. The Equal Pay Opportunity Act would protect workers from being fired or retaliated against for inquiring about or discussing compensation. It would also require employers to justify differences in job opportunities and pay based on legitimate factors like education — not gender.
Update (March 1, 2016): The Equal Pay Opportunity Act passed the House, but did not make it through the Senate this year. However, advocates elevated the conversation about the importance of equal pay. There is still a way you can support this policy: During election season, please ask your state candidates, “Will YOU prioritize equal pay in 2017?”
Learn more about the Equal Pay Opportunity Act on the Washington Work and Families Coalition website.