“How Much Do You Currently Make?” – Banning Salary History Questions

This post was written by Jessica Clay, a volunteer who serves on our Economic Justice Committee.

Women Are Still Paid Less Than Men

According to the National Women’s Law Center, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), American women who work full-time make only 79 to 80 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. Over the course of a year, this averages to more than $10,000 less in median earnings. The wag-gap is even more pronounced for women of color. The National Women’s Law Center found that Latina, Native American, and African American women make between 55 and 60 percent of the wages of white, non-Hispanic men, for full-time, year-round work.

Pay and compensation discrimination based on sex is prohibited under federal law by the Equal Pay Act of 1963, (EPA”), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (“Title VII”), as well as under many state and local laws. The laws apply to all forms of employee compensation:  salary, bonuses, overtime pay, holiday pay, stock options and profit sharing, reimbursements, and benefits. Under the EPA, men and women are required to be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment for jobs that are substantially equal. It is permissible, under the Act, to pay individuals differently based on seniority, merit, the quality or quantity of production, or any factor other than sex.  Title VII, likewise, prohibits discrimination in compensation based on sex, as well as, race, color, national origin, religion, or disability. Title VII, unlike the EPA, does not require that the employee’s job be substantially equal to a male counterpart. Likewise, Title VII does not require the comparator to work in the same establishment.

New Laws Preventing the Perpetuation of the Wage Gap

While pay discrimination can be based on experience, education, merit, or industry, it can also be perpetuated by allowing new employers to justify salaries based on the discriminatory pay of former employers. There is a growing trend of states and cities proposing legislation that bars an employer from asking a potential employee about their salary history. These laws are based on the idea that pay discrimination can follow a woman from employer to employer, throughout her career, because each job move is based on pay that is already lower than her male counterparts. Basically, pay discrimination can be compounded from job to job, throughout a woman’s career. These proposed laws seek to prohibit employers from relying on prior, likely inequitable, compensation-levels when setting salaries for incoming employees. Opponents of these measures contend that the law are unnecessary and will hurt the hiring process.

Earlier this year, in Rizo v. Yovino, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, overturning a lower court ruling in California, held that employers may pay women less than men for the same job based on their previous salaries. In other words, if a woman is paid less than a male counterpart because of pay discrimination at her former employer, her next employer can legally continue that pay disparity. The Ninth Circuit rejected the reasoning of the lower court, which concluded that basing women’s salaries on their prior salaries was inherently discriminatory because women likely faced pay discrimination at their previous jobs because of gender bias.

To prevent the perpetuation of the wage-gap, Philadelphia, New York City, and Massachusetts, have all passed laws that prohibit employers from asking job candidates about their salary history or benefits before making a job or salary offer. Women often start out their careers with unequal pay, and the wage discrimination follows them throughout their careers, from job to job. Last year, Massachusetts passed the first law that bars an employer from asking an applicant about their current salary or salary history.  Philadelphia’s law, which was set to go into effect on May 23, is on hold by a federal court. New York’s law, an amendment to the NYC Human Rights Law, is set to go into effect later this year, and Massachusetts’s in July of 2018. In January, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also proposed two executive orders aimed at eliminating the wage gap for public employees.  Numerous other states and local governments, are all considering similar laws, including: California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington D.C. The expectation is that, if employers don’t set employee wages based on discriminatory salary history, instead salaries would be strictly market-based. A bill prohibiting employers from asking salary-history questions during job interviews nation-wide, has also been proposed at the federal level. Currently, the proposed Pay Equity for All Act of 2016, (H.R. 6030) is in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Linking women’s salary to their previous salary can compound wage discrimination in the workplace. While much is still left to be done to close the wage gap, these types of laws are a step in the right direction. We must continue the fight for Equal Pay.

 

Sources

H.R.6030 – Pay Equity for All Act of 2016 114th Congress (2015-2016), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/6030

Facts About Equal Pay and Compensation Discrimination, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-epa.cfm

FAQ About the Wage Gap, National Women’s Law Center, https://nwlc.org/resources/faq-about-the-wage-gap/

Introduction of the Pay Equity Act of 2016, Congressional Record, September 14, 2016, Extension of Remarks, https://www.congress.gov/crec/2016/09/14/CREC-2016-09-14-pt1-PgE1269-3.pdf

Equal Pay Act Charges (Charges filed with EEOC), (includes concurrent charges with Title VII, ADEA, ADA, and GINA) FY 1997 – FY 2016, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/epa.cf1m

Written Testimony of Jocelyn C. Frye, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, Hearing of March 16, 2016 – Public Input into the Proposed Revisions to the EEO-1 Report, https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/3-16-16/frye.cfm

Asking for Salary History Perpetuates Pay Discrimination from Job to Job, National Women’s Law Center, https://nwlc.org/resources/asking-for-salary-history-perpetuates-pay-discrimination-from-job-to-job/

Lawmakers Advance Bill to Ban Salary History Questions, U.S. News and World Report, Best States, New Jersey News, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-jersey/articles/2017-05-23/lawmakers-advance-bill-to-ban-salary-history-questions

Banning Salary History Questions: A Game Changer?, Society for Human Resource Management, Oct. 6, 2016, https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/compensation/pages/banning-salary-history.aspx

Recruiting and “Off-Limits” Questions about Salary History – What Employers Need to Know, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=0c070d26-9a3f-4aa4-ac68-757f41653682

Legislation Limiting an Employer’s Ability to Inquire About and Consider Applicants’ Prior Salary History Gains Momentum, Employment Matters Blog, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=a066dabe-216e-402c-b6c7-19afba71f10f

The “New York Promise Agenda” Promises to Increase Employee Protections, Orrick Employment Law and Litigation, http://blogs.orrick.com/employment/2017/01/23/the-new-york-promise-agenda-promises-to-increase-employee-protections/

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Ways You Can Support Charlottesville

Though President Trump refused to immediately condemn the act of terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, VA, people across the US are organizing to combat these folks and their attempts to spread hate. Though we live far from Virginia, there are still steps people in Minnesota can take to support efforts in Charlottesville and around the country.

1. Donate money to those in need in Charlottesville

A number of GoFundMe fundraisers have been set up to cover the medical expenses of counter-protestors who were injured by white supremacists, including one started by a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and one hosted by Unity C-Ville. If you are interested in donating to an organization rather than a GoFundMe account, you can find a list of Charlottesville organizations that focus on supporting the community here.

2. Attend a vigil or protest

Both vigils and protests have taken place in Minnesota to express solidarity with the Charlottesville counter-protesters, and a march is planned for this weekend in order to continue the support. If you’re interested in taking action in the future, be sure to check out the TakeAction calendar to find information on  lots of relevant meetings and action events. Also, check out organizations like Voices for Racial Justice, ISAIAH, Jewish Community Action and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, who do important work in our state on issues like economic and racial justice.

3. Contact your legislator

Contacting your legislators to express your concerns regarding white supremacy and Trump’s silence on the topic is always a good idea, and you can do so by finding your legislator and either writing to them or calling their office. If you want a step-by-step guide to contacting your legislator, follow this guide for clear instructions on how to make your voice heard.

4. Stay updated on any new developments

Even though the news coming out of Charlottesville is hard to hear, it is important to stay abreast of all of the information that develops over the next few days. Most major publications are already keeping track of the events coming out of Charlottesville, but some especially informative opinions are coming out The New Yorker, so feel free to check out these articles in between news reports.

Americans Agree: Transgender Individuals Should Be Able To Serve

President Trump’s most recent tweet storm stirred up controversy last week when he announced that he intends to deny transgender individuals the ability to serve in any branch of the U.S. armed forces. This announcement befuddled and outraged many Americans, and an outpouring of support for the transgender community came in from activists, prominent service members, and government officials alike. And now, a week after Trump’s announcement was posted on Twitter, the American people themselves have spoken: recent polls show that the majority of American citizens do not agree with the banning of transgender individuals from military service.

Here are the stats you need to know: an AOL News poll found that 54% of Americans believe that transgender individuals should be allowed to serve in the military. This finding is backed up by a similar Reuters poll, which reported that 58% of Americans support the idea that transgender individuals should have the opportunity to serve if they so wish. Apparently, Americans are less concerned about the associated with the medical care of transgender service members (which would be minimal, according to a 2016 Rand Corp. Study,), and more concerned about the issue of civil rights that such a ban would create.

It is President Trump’s job to represent the people, and the people–from a group of 56 retired admirals to the Human Rights Campaign to the American people themselves–have spoken: transgender individuals most definitely should have the opportunity to serve in the military.

How Women Killed The Recent Attempt To Repeal Obamacare

Trump’s campaign-trail promise to “immediately…knock out Obamacare” is proving to be more difficult than the GOP originally anticipated, as we are now over one-hundred and eighty days into the Trump presidency and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still intact.  Initial attempts to repeal and replace the ACA have led to resistance on both sides of the aisle, with members of Congress expressing concern that the bill written to replace the ACA would not do enough to ensure that low-income individuals had access to health insurance. This fear is a legitimate one, as repealing and replacing the ACA would leave 22 million Americans without healthcare and would also cause out-of-pocket medical payments to increase. Due to these issues (and others), Senate Republicans’ two attempts to dismantle the ACA have failed.

However, the message that the Senate was sending to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell apparently wasn’t getting through, as McConnell decided to vote on repealing the ACA without a replacement earlier this week. This decision posed a very real threat to Americans, as repealing the ACA without a replacement–a decision that Trump has supported in the past–would leave 32 million Americans without access to healthcare and would “blow up the insurance markets.” Those who support the ACA were waiting for this vote with bated breath–but it never came to pass.

The morning of July 17, three GOP Senators–Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska–all announced they would nix the repeal of the ACA should it come to a vote. These refusals, due to the laws of the Senate, halted the repeal attempt in its tracks. When asked why she voted against her party’s platform, Senator Murkowski said “I cannot vote to proceed to repeal [the ACA] without reform that allows people the choice they want, the affordability they need, and the quality of care they deserve.”

Though these three Senators’ views on other issues don’t align with mine (or Minnesota NOW’s) their stand against McConnell’s risky attempt to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan is a reminder that the fight to save the ACA is still alive and kicking, and getting support from unlikely places.

Update: On July 25, 2017 Senate Republicans voted to open debate on the healthcare bill. Two Republicans — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — voted no. 

National Conference Re-cap, or, We Need to Do Better, NOW Sisters

I was really excited to head to the National NOW conference a few weeks ago. It was in Orlando, Florida, and I gave myself a few days before and after the conference to relax and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

On Friday morning I attended an awesome workshop on media coverage of sexual violence and came away with some great ideas for how to improve said coverage. It was great to be in a room full of folks who were just as outraged as I was about media coverage of things like sexual assault and child sexual abuse, and to brainstorm ways we could make positive changes.

It was an election year this year, and I volunteered to help the first all women of color officer ticket win the election. I attended a workshop later in the morning on Friday in which both women on the ticket spoke about their experience building coalitions, lobbying legislative bodies, and creating social change. It was at that workshop that my conference experience changed dramatically.

Behind me at the workshop sat two women who were wearing t-shirts supporting the other folks running for election, Toni and Gilda. While one of the women on the panel was talking they made rude, fairly loud comments about her experience and abilities. I was shocked that they would be so blatant with their comments, though others around me didn’t seem to notice. I didn’t say anything at the time (bad on me) but I did mention it to the women on the panel, and pretty much everyone else I ran into after the fact.

I tried to shake off the icky feeling and enjoy the rest of the conference, but other things that happened made me more upset.

I spent Saturday morning at the campaign table, talking to folks and handing out information. It reminded me very much of running my own campaign and it was pretty fun. While another volunteer and I were standing near the hallway that led to the rooms where the workshops were being held, a young woman who worked for NOW came up to me and told me that her and her colleagues had had a horrible time leading a workshop. A few older women had made them feel stupid for not being able to figure out a technology issue, and one of them even made a racial remark that prompted one of the staff (a young woman of color) to leave the room.

Later on that morning, after the candidates for President and Vice President had given their speeches and completed a Q & A session, an older white woman came up to one of the candidates on the all women of color ticket and started to scream at her. She then proceeded to do the same to several campaign volunteers, saying things about playing the race card, being racist, not respecting older feminists, etc. Keep in mind RACIAL JUSTICE IS LITERALLY ONE OF OUR SIX CORE ISSUES.

I had seen NOW members’ unfriendliness toward young feminists at National Conferences in the past, but I had never witnessed such outright hostility and racism. It was upsetting and disappointing, to say the least. It’s also something that needs to be addressed, and I hope the promises that newly elected NOW President Toni Van Pelt made in her acceptance speech to address these problems are not empty ones. We’re watching and we’re waiting, and we will hold NOW leadership’s feet to the fire on these issues. If we are going to be a feminist force to be reckoned with than we need to make sure that everyone – regardless of race, ethnicity, age or any other identity – feels welcome in our organization.

 

 

The Often-Forgotten Daughters of The Revolution

Having just spent the Fourth of July celebrating the Founding Fathers and their greatest achievement, it comes as no surprise that important figures of American history are on everyone’s minds. While most people know the stories of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, the women of the American Revolution are often forgotten. Though the fireworks may be over and the BBQ grills put away, let us remember a few of the  important American Revolution-era women who helped mold the best parts of our country, from sea to shining sea.

1. Sybil Ludington

In April of 1776, two individuals were sent out on a midnight ride to warn their communities that the British were invading American soil. One of these messengers was Paul Revere, a famous figure in American history. The other messenger was not, however, a Founding Father or a military hero. She was a sixteen year-old girl named Sybil Ludington. Though Sybil rarely gets the credit she deserves as a hero of American history, her ride on horseback was actually twice as long as Revere’s, and her efforts allowed the local military regiment to assemble and march against the British.

2. Phyllis Wheatley

Though she had been kidnapped from her native Gambia and forced into slavery upon reaching the United States, Phyllis Wheatley overcame many obstacles in order to become the nation’s first published African American poet. The publishers of her book were concerned that no one would believe that a female slave had written such beautiful poetry so they asked nearly twenty distinguished men in Boston to authenticate that she had. Wheatley’s work was so well-regarded that she was invited to meet George Washington after sending him a letter and poem of support. Soon after that she became recognized far and wide for her talented artistry and for her support of the Revolution.

3. Polly Cooper

Long before the French joined the American Revolution as allies to the colonists, American revolutionaries received support from the Oneida Nation, a Native American tribe that played an important role in providing aid to the colonists. One Oneida woman in particular was integral to the survival of the Revolution during the winter of 1777. Her name was Polly Cooper and she has been described as “an example of the courage, generosity and indomitable spirit of the Oneida people”. As one of forty members sent to Valley Forge in order to deliver food and medical aid, Cooper remained with the Revolutionary Army throughout the winter in order to insure the survival of as many soldiers as possible.

4. Abigail Adams

Easily one of the most famous women on this list, Abigail Adams was the wife and private advisor of eventual President John Adams. While she is most famous for urging her husband to “remember the ladies” when making new laws for the young nation, she also acted as a military organizer and “an adamant advocate of equal public education for women and emancipation of African-American slaves”. She was friends with a number of early American feminists, including Mercy Otis Warren, a political writer and satirist.

These women are just a few of the many ladies of liberty that history too often forgets. As you enjoy the last few fireworks and frankfurters from the holiday, remember to celebrate America’s earliest feminists as well!

The Fight For LGBT Rights In MN: Pride All Year Long

Though the Twin Cities’ weekend-long Pride Festival has drawn to colorful close (check out this photo essay by Tony Nelson if you weren’t able to celebrate the festival in person!), there are still many ways to support and continue the spirit of Pride all year long. Whether you’re interested in attending more events like the Pride Festival, becoming more active in Minnesota’s LGBTQIA community, or simply learning more about social activism, we’ve compiled a handy list of resources for you to celebrate Pride all year long.

While the Twin Cities’ Pride Festival is one of the larger celebrations of Pride in Minnesota, it is certainly not the only Pride event that takes place during the year. In fact, the Twin Cities Pride website has a full calendar of Pride-related events for interested LGBTQIA community members and allies: upcoming events include the Rochester Pridefest on July 21st, the J-Pride Shabbat service on July 28th, and a series of monthly Twin Cities Pride board meetings where you can observe firsthand the efforts Pride leaders are making to further the LGBTQIA community. This calendar is constantly being updated, so be sure to check the Twin Cities Pride website regularly in order to not miss any of the action!

If the Pride Festival inspired you to become more active in the LGBTQIA community as a volunteer, then check out OutFront Minnesota, one of the state’s premier organizations that supports the LGBTQIA community though volunteer services. Whether you’re interested in volunteering as an anti-violence advocate, a lobbying advocate, or an artistic advocate, OutFront has a place for you! The application process to volunteer is easy, and through your work you’ll be able to make a difference in your community all year long.

Activism goes hand-in-hand with education, which is where the our third resource comes in: the Twin Cities Pride Podcast. Each episode is hosted by different members of the LGBTQIA community, discussing a variety of topics within the themes of art, culture, education, and activism. You’ll be sure to learn something new with each new episode, so be sure to check out the podcast on their website in order to catch up on the most recent episodes!