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Resolution Urges Congress to Act on “Paycheck Fairness Act” Once and For All

(TRENTON) – The Assembly on Thursday approved a measure sponsored by Assembly members Pamela Lampitt, Angel Fuentes and Daniel R. Benson aimed at putting an end to the long-standing wage discrimination experienced by women throughout the United States.

The resolution (AR-50) urges the United States Congress to pass the “Paycheck Fairness Act” in order to combat the persistent income gap that is attributable to systemic gender discrimination and provide women with more tools to achieve pay equity in the workplace.

“In 2012, women are still earning roughly 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “That’s an archaic sounding statistic reminiscent of the struggles women faced toiling in factories in the early 20th century. Letting this pay inequity stand essentially sanctions discrimination against women in the workplace. Congress let the opportunity slip out of its hands last session. We can’t let that happen again.”

“Pay equity is not only a matter of fairness, but economics,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Two-thirds of American families rely on a woman’s wages for financial security. In New Jersey, nearly 60 percent of working mothers bring in more than a quarter of their families’ income. If we want strong families, we must ensure that working women are bringing home the same paycheck for the same work as their male counterparts.”

“We tell our children the key to success is hard work, yet women are earning less than men despite comparable education levels,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “The gender gap is largest in high paying occupations and women who graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree earn far less than their male colleagues just one year out of college. And it doesn’t get better. The pay gap widens 10 years after graduation and follows women into retirement. It is imperative that we fix this pay inequity, which is a disservice to working women and the families that depend on them.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed the House of Representatives in January 2009 but never cleared the U.S. Senate, was reintroduced in 2010 and aims to strengthen current laws against wage discrimination and provides tools to enable the federal government to be more proactive in the fight. Among other things, the Paycheck Fairness Act would also close a significant loophole in the Equal Pay Act to allow for full compensation for sex-based wage discrimination.

Lampitt, who chairs the newly reconstituted Assembly Women and Children Committee, noted that 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data shows that full-time, year-round female workers earned 23 percent less than their male counterparts. Furthermore, minority women fare significantly worse with median earnings for African American and Hispanic women working full-time, year-round far less compared to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

The resolution was approved by a 66-3-5 vote.