March 7, 2018-
On Wednesday, the Washington Legislature officially passed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act (HB 1506), the first update to the state’s equal pay law since 1943. This historic measure requires any gender disparity in pay to be backed up with legitimate job-related factors-such as education, training, or experience-instead of unfair assumptions and practices. “Women in Washington who worked full-time in 2016 made 76.5 percent of men’s earnings. Even after accounting for occupation, education, and other such factors, scholars have consistently found that this gap cannot be explained without the influence of discrimination.
Clearly, the Equal Pay laws on the books have proven insufficient,” says Marilyn Watkins, Policy Director for the Economic Opportunity Institute. “Many women are kept in the dark about imbalances where they work, as private sector companies often prohibit employees from discussing pay. This can make it impossible for women to advocate for themselves.” Further, the Equal Pay Opportunity Act fights wage secrecy by granting workers the right to inquire about, disclose, compare, or otherwise discuss their wages without retaliation from their employer.