Rep. Ben Ray Luján
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., highlighted Equal Pay Day and the importance of taking steps to close the wage gap that still exists between men and women, including passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Equal Pay Day symbolizes when, more than three months into the year, women’s wages finally catch up to what men were paid the previous year. Luján is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that strengthens and closes loopholes in the Equal Pay Act that was signed into law nearly 51 years ago.
“Equal pay for equal work is a principal that we should all support and one that we should all strive to achieve. However, nationwide, women today only early 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and in New Mexico, women make 80 percent of what men make,” Luján said.
“Ensuring women earn equal pay is not just a women’s issue, but a family issue. When a woman brings home less money for the same work, it means less for the essential needs of her family – groceries, rent, child care, and more. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act would take an important step toward closing this gap,” he said.
Even when education, industry, and hours are taken into account, there remains a wage gap between men and women. A report by the American Association of University Women found that, compared to men with the same major who are working full time in the same occupation, women make seven percent less one year out of college. Hispanic women face one of the largest wage gaps, earning on average only 53 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men.
The Paycheck Fairness Act protects employees from retaliation if they share their wages or ask about employers’ wage practices, implements stronger deterrents to prevent discrimination in the first place, and provides effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal pay for equal work.