POINT OF VIEW Pay equity for women is 50 years overdue


It is concerning that as we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, women in the U.S. and Florida continue to be paid less than their male counterparts.

In the U.S., women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. In the state of Florida, women earn 85 cents for every dollar a man earns. Florida’s lower gap, however, is not something to be particularly proud of since it is a result of the large number of minimum-wage earners in the state, causing our average salaries to be significantly lower than other states.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act. In the over 50 years since it was enacted, women still have not achieved parity in salary.

Florida has the chance to remedy this problem. Senate Bill 410 and House Bill 319, otherwise known as the Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act, provide that it is a clear violation of law for an employer to pay less to an employee based solely on gender. The legislation provides enforcement tools such as prohibiting job applicants from being screened based on prior wages, barring employers from taking retaliatory action against an employee who discloses their wages to a co-worker or inquires about another employee’s wages, and prohibiting assignment or directing an employee to a career track, which would be unlikely to lead to a promotion.

Pay inequality isn’t just a women’s issue; it is a family issue that has real consequences. Recent research has found that 50 percent of households with children include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner for her family. Wage discrimination limits women’s and men’s choices. It impairs their ability to buy homes and pay for a college education, and limits their total lifetime earnings, thereby reducing their retirement savings and benefits.

America is a nation founded on the ideal that all of us are created equal, and that should hold true at home and at work. Paying being people fairly for the work they do should not depend on their gender. It is estimated that at the present rate Florida will not achieve pay equality until 2038. One day is too long; over 20 years is a travesty.

LORI BERMAN, BOYNTON BEACH

Editor’s note: Lori Berman represents District 90 in the Florida House of Representatives.



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