Two Pennsylvania lawmakers are working to bridge the gender gap through a new bill that addresses the issue of pay in the workplace. “In the state of Pennsylvania, in the Commonwealth, women are paid approximately 77 cents on the dollar in accordance with their male counterparts for the same work. In Pittsburgh its about 73 cents on the dollar, in Philadelphia its about 76 cents on the dollar. You kind of step up and say I have something to say in this conversation and its important,” said Representative Erin Molchany (D) with the 22nd Legislative District.
Representative Molchany and Representative Brian Sims introduced the Workplace Opportunity Bill or House Bill 1890. The bill would clarify the reasons why an employer could pay employees different wages. Gender is not one of them. “Education, training and experience are reasons for a differential in pay, and it removes gender completely from the equation,” said Rep. Molchany.
So far the bill has earned Bipartisan support with more than 40 co-sponsors. State Representative Kevin Schrieber (D) 95th Legislative District is one of those supporters. He is a co-sponsor on the bill. “It is ensuring that women in Pennsylvania are getting paid dollar for dollar at what any man would be paid. And, a job is based on performance and merit, and not gender or any other demographic basis. The fact that we are talking about this in 2014 frankly is disturbing,” said Rep. Schreiber.
The bill would also add protection for employees who file pay equity suits against their employer, or who share their pay information. “It protects the employee from any retribution for having a conversation with their fellow employees about compensation. How do you find out that your pay isn’t what it should be, or doesn’t match up with your male counterparts,” said Rep. Molchany.
The bill is part of a group of bills geared towards women’s health. “Some of the other bills in the package of bills that rolled out, the workplace opportunity legislation House Bill 1890 is one part of that. Some of the other pieces of legislation deal with sanitary conditions for nursing mothers in the workplace, accommodations for women in the workplace, protection for women in regards to domestic violence situations, and increased eligibility for breast and cervical screenings,” said Rep. Molchany.
The bill has been referred to the Labor and Industry Committee to be reviewed.