Well isn’t that apt timing? Two days in advance of Equal Pay Day (April 12)–the day we mark as the day when women’s earnings “catch up” to men’s earnings from the previous year–the Maryland General Assembly got together and passed an equal pay bill! I guess Maryland legislators got sick of having to recognize Equal Pay Day every year and decided to do something about it. I don’t blame them especially since the wage gap for women of color in Maryland is so bad. In fact, Latinas in Maryland make only 47 cents to every dollar made by white, non-Hispanic men. So while we mark Equal Pay Day for women overall on April 12, Latinas in Maryland have to work 775 days to make what white non-Hispanic men make in 365. In other words, Equal Pay Day for Latinas in Maryland won’t be until the spring of next year. Equal pay for women in Maryland is clearly long overdue.
That is why Governor Hogan should not waste any time signing the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. Governor Hogan should sign the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act tomorrow—on Equal Pay Day—and transform this day into a day to celebrate equal pay, not recognize our failure to provide equal pay.
Maryland already has an equal pay law. The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act simply strengthens that law by closing loopholes in the law that have been undermining equal pay protections and allowing the wage gap to persist in Maryland. The bill also includes provisions that have the potential to make a real impact in closing the wage gap. Notably, the bill makes clear that an employer cannot prohibit or retaliate against employees from discussing wages. This provision is crucial because pay discrimination is so hard to root out in large part because employers often discourage or prohibit employees from discussing their wages.
The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act would also prohibit an employer from providing less favorable employment opportunities based on sex or gender identity.This is important because discrimination all too often takes the form of pushing women into lower-paying positions without opportunities for promotion. This provision will help bring an end to occupational segregation of women into lower-paying jobs, which is crucial to closing the wage gap.
The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act passed the Maryland legislature with bipartisan support because equal pay and pay transparency is good for employees and for business. Equal Pay and pay transparency have been shown to improve employee morale, productivity, and retention.
We urge Governor Hogan to sign the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act tomorrow so we can all celebrate Equal Pay Day in Maryland going forward.
You can help by calling the Governor’s office at 410-974-3901 and telling him that you want him to sign the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act tomorrow.