LM Celebrates Women's History Month
March is Women’s History Month and within it falls Equal Pay Day. This year we are honoring both by reflecting on the long history of advocacy to achieve equal pay for women: both the progress made and the efforts necessary to finally close the gender pay gap. As we highlighted last week at our 18th annual Women of Achievement Awards in San Francisco, CA, the federal Equal Pay Act was enacted sixty years ago and gives workers a tool to challenge unequal pay based on gender. At the time of Legal Momentum’s founding in 1970, the gender wage gap hovered at a staggering 57 to 61 cents earned by female workers for every dollar earned by a male worker. While we’ve come a long way, today, more than 50 years later, those same women workers still make only 84 cents for every dollar a white male worker makes. The rates are persistently worse for Black, Latina and Native women workers. And women remain overrepresented in the lowest paying jobs. As we reflect on this history, we look forward to the impact our current work can have on closing the gender pay gap for good.
Here is what we are focused on:
- Pay transparency: We cannot address pay inequity unless we end the culture of secrecy around what workers are paid. In the past two years, Legal Momentum worked to enact groundbreaking legislation in New York City and State that now requires employers to post pay ranges up-front in job postings. Many other states, cities, and employers are now following this lead and we continue our advocacy to build upon these successes so workers in other parts of the country benefit and to push for compliance and enforcement.
- Salary history bans: Legal Momentum continues to support efforts to enact legislation that prohibits employers from asking about or relying upon a candidate’s prior salary during the hiring process. By relying on prior salaries, employers exacerbate discrimination against women and people of color, who have been historically underpaid.
- Raising and indexing the minimum wage: Women continue to be overrepresented in the minimum wage workforce, a trend that is a significant contributor to the persistent wage gap and undermines women’s financial security. To address this problem, Legal Momentum is working to pass legislation to raise and index the minimum wage to reflect increases in the cost of living.
- Raising pay in low-wage female-dominated industries: For too long low-wage work has been considered women’s work, despite the fact that so many female-dominated jobs require a high degree of skill and difficulty and are essential to our economy. To reverse this trend, Legal Momentum is working to support efforts to increase pay and legal protections in these sectors.