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Urge Congress to end pay discrimination
American women today make, on average, 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. This disparity is even worse for women of Color: Black women make 63 cents for every dollar earned by their white, male counterparts, Indigenous women make 60 cents, and Latina women make only 55 cents. In a society that puts so much emphasis on the idea that hard work leads to success, paying women less than their male counterparts signals that their work is worth less, and as a result, that they are worth less.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the need to pass legislation to address the gender pay gap. Countless studies have illuminated the disproportionate economic toll the pandemic has had on working women, leading many experts to deem the economic recession a "she-cession."

The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.7/S.205 in the 117th Congress) would help secure equal pay for equal work by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a law that has not yet been able to achieve its promise of closing the wage gap due to limited enforcement and inadequate remedies.

Urge your Senators to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act when it is reintroduced in the 118th Congress and end the gender pay gap once and for all.                                                                            

Background

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 set out to end gender-based pay discrimination. However, limited enforcement of the law and inadequate remedies for workers who do experience gender-based pay discrimination have meant that this law has not yet been fully realized.

In 2009, Congress took an important step towards closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act by passing the The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring the rights of employees who have suffered pay discrimination by amending the statute of limitations employees have to file an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination. This legislation was a critical first step to ensuring fair pay for women in the workplace, yet, there is still much work to be done.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the Equal Pay Act to ensure effective protection against sex-based pay discrimination. The bill would allow women to receive the same remedies in court for pay discrimination as those subjected to discrimination based on race or national origin. Now more than ever, women and families rely on women's work; more than 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are the sole or primary source of the family's income.

The House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act in April 2021, but the Senate did not pass it. The bill must now be reintroduced in the 118th Congress.

Jewish Values and Pay Discrimination

Jewish tradition has long recognized the importance of paying fair wages. Leviticus 19:13 commands that, “You shall not defraud your neighbor, nor rob him; the wages of he who is hired shall not remain with you all night until the morning.” Judaism also teaches that pay equity is more than solely a "women's issue." It is a civil and human rights issue as well. This understanding is accurately conveyed in the Talmud, which states, “One who withholds an employee's wages is as though [they] have deprived [them] of [their] life" (Baba Metzia 112a).

More Information

For more information on this issue, visit the RAC’s webpage on women's rights or contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Lillie Heyman. You can email your elected officials through our form above, or you can call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask to speak directly with their offices.

This action alert is part of a partnership between the RAC and Women of Reform Judaism. By signing this alert you will be added to the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) advocacy email lists to be kept up-to-date on these issues.

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