Government

West Hartford Legislator, Advocates Use Equal Pay Day as Call to Action

State Rep. Derek Slap, flanked by his daughters, speaks to the legislature about pay equity. Submitted photo
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State Rep. Derek Slap of West Hartford, sponsor of a pay equity bill, and others spoke out in support of efforts to bridge the gender wage gap.

Submitted

Reps Derek Slap (D-West Hartford, Avon, Farmington) and Robyn Porter (D-Hamden, New Haven) were joined Tuesday by colleagues and advocates in support of House Bills 5591 and 5210. These proposals call for removal of salary history questions during job interviews and define any difference in pay based on gender as discriminatory.

“Equal pay for equal work regardless of gender is not just a matter of common sense fairness, but a right that should be a matter of law,” said Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington). “This is a long term societal problem that has a negative impact on our economy and thousands of families.”

“On average the gender wage gap costs each working woman in Connecticut more than $10,000 every year,” said Slap. “Wage discrimination isn’t only unfair, it’s bad for families and the economy. At the current rate women won’t receive fair pay for more than 50 years – that’s too long to wait for our daughters, mothers, sisters and spouses.”

Porter, who co-chairs the Labor Committee, said, “It is appalling and shameful that the gender wage gap still exists in 2017. This wage gap not only affects women’s day to day earnings, but it also impacts their children and families, especially if that woman is a single mother or the breadwinner. There is no viable justification for the disparate treatment. The time to pass this legislation is now and I am proud to stand with my colleagues today.”

In Connecticut, median annual pay for a woman working a full-time job is $50,706 compared to $60,385 for a man. This means that women in Connecticut are paid 83 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to an annual wage gap of $10,679.

Christine Palm, Women’s Policy Analyst for the General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors, says provisions in the bills would help address longstanding, systemic gender discrimination: “The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, and the wage gap closes at less than one cent per year, so it is beyond time for equal pay legislation to be enacted in all 50 states. Connecticut already has a pay secrecy bill on the books, and this new legislation takes equity a significant step further.”

“Without action, the gender gap in Connecticut – an inequity that is even larger for women of color – is not expected to close until 2061,” said Kate C. Farrar, a West Hartford resident who is executive director of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund. “This legislation takes the necessary steps towards pay equity by prohibiting the use of salary histories in the hiring process. It will help to close the wage gap, attract and retain workers in Connecticut, and ensure our state is a leader in the promotion of gender equity.”

Also speaking in support of the legislation were West Hartford resident Donna Haghighat, co-president of AAUW-CT, an advocacy group for women and families, and Amy Tenenbaum, a student at CCSU.

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