State Reps. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny) and Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) introduced a bill Monday that would update and clarify the legal standards for pay-equity lawsuits.
Molchany and Sims are introducing this bill as part of a larger effort to address women’s rights in Pennsylvania.
“The average woman earns 84 cents for every dollar a man makes. In the Pittsburgh region, the wage gap is closer to 73 cents per dollar,” Molchany said. “While the entirety of the wage gap can’t be blamed on discrimination, the fact that any of it could be contributed to someone’s sex demands attention.”
House Bill 1890 would update the conditions under which employers could pay different wages due to factors other than the employee’s gender. These factors would include specific attributes such as education, training and experience related to that employee’s job. The bill would also fortify protections for employees attempting to bring a pay-equity lawsuit against their employer and those who share information about their pay.
“Pay equity laws have been around for 40 or more years,” Sims said. “Clearly it’s time to strengthen and update them to bring about real pay equity for the many working women in Pennsylvania who are still shortchanged.”
House Bill 1890, introduced with 45 bipartisan cosponsors, is part of a larger group of bills supported by the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s Women’s Health Caucus.
“We live in a country that guarantees each of us full equality under the law,” Sims said. “Right now, in this country and in this state, more than half of our population is being insidiously discriminated against. This bill is long overdue.”
Already in her short time in the General Assembly, Molchany has experience fighting for women’s rights. In 2013, she voted against House Bill 818, which states that abortions cannot be covered by insurance for women buying them through the health insurance marketplace. Molchany said that she voted against the bill because it “creates separate and unequal healthcare for women in Pennsylvania.”
Sims also spoke out against House Bill 818 last year, saying, “This legislation is about advancing an ideology of oppression and suppression.”
House Bill 1890 is part of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, which includes many different topics related to promoting the equality of women such as protections for domestic violence victims and increased eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings.