CLOSING THE WAGE GAP: LD 1259, An Act Regarding Pay Equality
The wage gap persists in Maine causing women in our state to lose out on an average of $10,093[i] annually compared to their male counterparts in the workforce. In 2017, Maine women were paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to men[ii].
LD 1259, An Act Regarding Pay Equality, is a common-sense solution to address the pay gap and wage discrimination. This bill would prevent employers from seeking information about a prospective employee’s past salary before offering employment. When companies use prior pay to determine an employee’s current wages, pay discrimination of the past follows employees into their next jobs.
The Maine Human Rights Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of race or color, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, age, ancestry, or national origin against any applicant for employment, and to discriminate against any employee on these bases in the employee’s compensation.
LD 1259 would amend the Maine Human Rights Act to include the following as evidence of unlawful employment discrimination for any protected classes:
- an employer inquiring about an applicant’s salary history prior to negotiating and making an
offer of employment including all terms of compensation; and
- an employer prohibiting an employee from discussing the employee’s wages
or inquiring about or disclosing the wages of other employees.
Because the wage gap is so pervasive and widespread, many women experience the pay gap at some point during their work history. When employers use past salary data to determine a woman’s next salary, past pay discrimination becomes a part of future pay. This can happen repeatedly across a woman’s working years.
The consequences of the pay gap follow women into retirement when they receive less income from Social Security, and pensions, as well as benefits from disability and life insurance because they are all based on earnings.[iii]
Often women do not know that their pay is less than their male counterparts. While many factors determine an individual’s salary, women cannot make informed decisions about whether or not they are experiencing pay discrimination unless they can openly discuss pay with their colleagues. Clarifying protections under current law for workers who discuss their pay is an important step in addressing the pay gap.
An individual’s skills, experience, and value to a new employer should determine their pay; not their gender or past salary.
ADDITIONAL FACTS ABOUT THE WAGE GAP:
- Nearly six in 10 women (58%) in our country identify equal pay as one of the most important issues facing women in the workplace.[iv]
- 70% of Republican women, 83% of independent women, and 88% of Democratic women say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports equal pay for women.[v]
- Closing the wage gap would make a financial difference for Maine families. On average, a working woman in Maine would have enough money for approximately:
- If we closed the wage gap, the poverty rate for all working women would be cut in half, falling from 8.0% to 3.8% and the very high poverty rate for working single mothers would fall by nearly half, from 28.9% to 14.5%[x].
- Approximately 25.8 million children nationally would benefit from the increased earnings of their mothers[xi] because mothers employed full time, year round are paid 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.[xii] This is a serious concern for Maine where the number of children living in deep poverty has increased in recent years. Women head nearly 55,000 Maine households and about 28% of those families (17,513 households) have incomes below the poverty level.[xiii]
- A comparison of workers one year out of college and controlling for factors known to affect earnings, such as major, occupation, geographic region, marital status, and hours worked revealed an unexplainable 7% gender pay gap. That gap increased to 12% 10 years after graduation.[xiv]
- Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that nationally, Native, African American, and Latina women faced even larger gaps of 58%, 62%, and 54% respectively.[xv]
- The wage gap increases with age. Data from 2015 showed women aged 20-24 who worked full-time were paid 90% of what white men made on a weekly basis. Women workers aged 55-64 were paid just 74% of what their male peers were paid.[xvi]
- The median pay for women with disabilities is 69% of the pay of men with disabilities.[xvii]
- The U.S. economy would have produced additional income of $512.6 billion—representing 2.8% of the 2016 gross domestic product (GDP)—if the pay gap did not exist.[xviii]
[i] National Partnership for Women and Families. (April 2017) Maine Women and the Wage Gap. Retrieved May 1, 2017 from http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/workplace-fairness/fair-pay/4-2017-me-wage-gap.pdf
[iii] American Association of University Women. (Spring 2017) The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. Retrieved May 1, 2017 from http://www.aauw.org/aauw_check/pdf_download/show_pdf.php?file=The-Simple-Truth
[v] Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. (February 17, 2016). Winning Women in 2016: Findings from a Web Survey of American Adults. Retrieved May 16, 2017 from http://www.americanwomen.org/research/document/American-Women-Survey-Millennial-Memo-02.18.16.pdf (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted a national online survey of 800 registered voters, with an oversample of 200 millennial women (ages 18-35) voters, for a total sample size of 1,000 registered voters, weighted to be representative of registered voters nationally. The survey was conducted from December 7–10, 2015.)
[vi] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016, August). Consumer Expenditure Survey, Table 1800. Region of residence: Annual expenditure means, shares, standard errors, and coefficient of variation, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2017 from http://www.bls.gov/cex/2015/combined/region.pdf (Calculation uses overall average “food” cost for the Northeast)
[vii] Child Care Aware of America. (2016). Parents and the High Cost of Child Care. Retrieved May 16, 2017 from http://usa.childcareaware.org/wpcontent/uploads/2017/01/CCA_High_Cost_Report_01-17-17_final.pdf
[viii] U.S. Census Bureau. (2016). American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates 2015, Table GCT2511: Median Monthly Housing Costs for Owner-Occupied Housing Units with a Mortgage (Dollars) – United States – States; and Puerto Rico. Retrieved May 16, 2017 from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_15_1YR_GCT2511.US01PR&prodType=table (Calculation uses median monthly housing costs for owner-occupied housing units with a mortgage for Maine)
[ix] U.S. Census Bureau. (2016). American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates 2015, Table GCT2514: Median Monthly Housing Costs for Renter-Occupied Housing Units (Dollars) – United States – States; and Puerto Rico. Retrieved May 16, 2017 from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_15_1YR_GCT2514.US01PR&prodType=table (Calculation uses median gross rent for Maine)
[x] Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (April 2017) Pay Equity & Discrimination, Poverty and the Social Safety Net. Retrieved May 1, 2017 from https://iwpr.org/publications/impact-equal-pay-poverty-economy/
[xii] National Partnership for Women and Families. (April 2017) Maine Women and the Wage Gap. Retrieved May 1, 2017 from http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/workplace-fairness/fair-pay/4-2017-me-wage-gap.pdf
[xiv] American Association of University Women. (Spring 2017) The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. Retrieved May 1, 2017 from http://www.aauw.org/aauw_check/pdf_download/show_pdf.php?file=The-Simple-Truth