Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne is co-sponsor of a pay equity bill that cleared the U.S. House Thursday. Axne, a Democrat from West Des Moines, said it would provide women new tools to fight wage discrimination in their workplace.
“More than five decades after we passed the Equal Pay Act, we’re still only making 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man,” Axne said, adding that the pay gap is even wider for Black and Latino women.
Axne said data shows women, especially working moms, were pushed out of the workforce during the pandemic and the bill addresses some of the loopholes that preserve the gap between what women and men earn.
“The ability to retaliate against employees who discuss their wages — those are the types of things that would be closed with this,” Axne said.
The bill would eliminate barriers to class action lawsuits over wage disparities and it would limit how much information businesses can seek about what a job prospect is earning at their current job. Half of women who work — even those who are married — say they are the primary breadwinner in their household.
“This is not just a women’s issue,” Axne said. “This is a family issue and this is an economic issue.”
The bill passed the House with a bipartisan majority and awaits action in the U.S. Senate.