Bills target wage discrimination against women

Bills target wage discrimination against women

By TIM MARTIN The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — House Democrats appeared around the state Monday in support of bills they say would strengthen Michigan laws related to wage discrimination against women.

One of the bills would create a statewide pay equity commission that would be responsible for developing definitions of comparable wages, which alarms some business groups.

The discussion about the Michigan legislation came on the eve of National Equal Pay Day. The day is noted each April to indicate how much longer into a new year a woman must work to earn as much as a man earned in the previous year.

The latest U.S. Census figures say that on average, a woman employed full-time and year-round earns about 77 cents for every $1 earned by a man. A group called the Michigan Pay Equity Network says that the gap in the state is 67 cents for every $1.

The ratio nationwide was 59 cents to every $1 in 1970. At that pace, women’s equity groups say the gap would not completely close for another 50 years.

“Employees who play by the rules deserve to be compensated fairly — and when women make less than their male counterparts for doing the same work, it hurts us all,” Rep. Joan Bauer, a Democrat from Lansing and one of the sponsors of the legislation, said in a statement.

The legislation is scheduled to be discussed in a state House committee on Tuesday.

One of the bills would create a governor-appointed commission that would be charged with developing definitions, models and guidelines for employers and employees on pay equity.

Democrats have proposed revisions to anti-discrimination laws that would prohibit an employer from failing or refusing to provide compensation equally for work of comparable value because of sex, religion, race, color, national origin, age, height, weight or marital status. Comparable value could be measured in terms of skill, responsibility, effort, education, training and working conditions.

The phrasing of the bill worries some who say it could lead to unfair and confusing attempts to mandate comparable pay for jobs that are different and aren’t in the same demand within Michigan’s job market.