Scripps: Equal Pay for Equal Work Protects Michigan Families
Lawmaker targets fair and equal pay, calls for end to wage discrimination
— April 28, 2009
LANSING – Standing alongside groups fighting to end wage discrimination, State Representative Dan Scripps (D-Leland) backed legislation introduced today to create new legal avenues and provide tougher penalties for employers that engage in this practice. Scripps was joined by advocates of pay equity in recognition of Equal Pay Day.
"It's time that Michigan ends this discriminatory practice and finally act on the promise of equal pay for equal work," Scripps said. "With so many families struggling to make ends meet in this economy, we can't afford to have some of our friends and neighbors fall behind because of our unfortunate history of inequality that has forced too many women to be paid like second-class citizens. This plan will force employers to look only at the merits of an employee when deciding a fair and equitable wage."
According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Michigan is ranked 44th in the nation for wage parity between men and women. Women working in Michigan are paid 71 cents for every $1 men make. This puts Michigan far behind the national gender pay gap of 78 cents per dollar.
Last year, the Senate blocked a similar House plan that would have established new penalties for wage discrimination and created new legal avenues to pursue those who discriminate and deprive employees of their right to fair wages. Under the plan introduced today, failing to provide equal compensation for work of comparable value will be a violation of the state's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Under the plan, gender-based pay discrimination would be a misdemeanor, with employers facing up to $2,000 or up to 90 days in jail for not complying. Employers guilty of a third violation would face fines up to $15,000.
"It is shameful that Michigan has lagged so far behind in dealing with the issue of wage discrimination," Scripps said. "Michigan families, many of whom rely on a woman's income, deserve better. By addressing this issue now, we can help families across Michigan who have been hurt by this unfair and arbitrary pay gap."
Groups gathering alongside the lawmakers included: the AAUW, Business and Professional Women, WomenWork!, National Organization for Women, Pay Equity Network, League of Women Voters, Michigan Women's Commission and others.