Member's Press Release

Release Date: 01/26/2016
Contact: Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer at (304) 319-2423 and Erikka Storch at 304-340-3378

Barbara Fleischauer,Erikka Storch

Equal Pay Can't Wait - West Virginia Legislature To Recognize Harm Of Gender Pay Gap

Joining Legislators from more than 20 states, the West Virginia Legislature will recognize that Equal Pay Can’t Wait on Thursday, January 28, 2016 with a press conference and floor ceremonies at the State Capitol, and an Unhappy Hour Thursday evening from 5:00-7:00 at Sam’s Uptown Café in downtown Charleston, WV.

January 29th is the 7th anniversary of the signing of Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act. The Act restored the protection against pay discrimination that was stripped away by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Because Lily Ledbetter’s employer forbade employees from discussing their wages, she was not aware she had been earning considerably less than male managers for years. She won a $3.3 million verdict against Goodyear for pay discrimination, but never recovered anything because the Court said she should have filed earlier.

Nationally, women earn only 78 cents to every dollar a man earns. In West Virginia, women earn even less – only 70 cents for every dollar earned by men.

West Virginia ranks 48th in the country when it comes to the gender pay gap. “We are tired of waiting for equality,” said Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia.

Several WV Legislators are introducing the Equal Pay Act of 2016, which will affirmatively permit employees to discuss their wages. If an employer has a policy that would forbid employees from discussing their wages, or if and employer retaliates against a person for discussing his or her wages, it would be illegal if the bill becomes law.

Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, is the lead sponsor of the House version of the 2016 West Virginia Equal Pay Act. “This is the 21st century, and we have free speech rights in our country,” she said. “This bill is just common sense.”

“This bill will protect West Virginians from the discrimination that Lily Ledbetter suffered,” Fleischauer added. “If she had known about the pay discrimination, she could have done something about it earlier instead of losing thousands and thousands in wages.”

Delegates and Senators will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, January 28, 2016 in Room M-252, the Lew McManus conference room, to discuss the proposed legislation and how unequal pay harms women, families, and women’s retirement income.

An Unhappy Hour for women and men to share their sorrow about Unequal Pay will be held on Thursday, January 28th, 2016 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Sam’s Uptown Café, located at 28 Capitol St., in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. Sam’s will be offering a drink special that will reflect women’s lower wages – women will be charged 70 percent of what men will be charged for the Unhappy Hour drink special.

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