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Ga Rep. Hank Johnson: 'a woman deserves equal pay for equal work'

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (Ga-D) released a statement today encouraging Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, or S. 84, a bill which would prohibit "sex discrimination in the payment of wages" to ensure that women get paid as much as men for equal work.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) (R) speaks during a news conference to mark Equal Pay Day, on Capitol Hill, April 8, 2014 in Washington, DC. DeLauro is the sponsor of the House version of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

According to the U.S. Census Bureau report, "the 2012 female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.77," a statistic that Johnson believes belongs in the dark ages.

“According to a report from the American Association of University Women, the women in the Fourth Congressional District still earn only 88 cents for every dollar earned by men,” said Johnson, who represents Georgia's fourth congressional district. “And nationwide women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act will mark its 51st anniversary in June. Today, women make up about half the workforce and it’s wrong that on average they are still being paid less than men. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.

"As President Obama has stated, ‘It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.’”

April 8 is the "Equal Pay Day," and some lawmakers hope to use today as a springboard for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, authored and cosponsored exclusively by Democrats.

The legislation would require employers to provide wage information to a federal oversight commission, ensure that employees can inquire about, discuss, and disclose their own and coworker's pay without a fear of retribution, and make employers who are guilty of violating "sex discrimination prohibitions" liable in a civil action lawsuits.

Republicans have refused to support the bill, arguing that Democrats are using the proposal as election bait, and that the legislation would actually hurt women. They also allege that the 77-cent statistic is inaccurate.

“Equal pay is not simply a woman’s issue – it’s a family issue,” Rep Johnson added. “Families increasingly rely on women’s wages to make ends meet. When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families – groceries, rent, child care, doctors’ visits.”

“I hope that this week, we will see some Senate Republicans work with Democrats to get the 60 votes needed to get the Paycheck Fairness Act finally passed through the Senate. In this 21st century, in order to strengthen the American family and ensure fairness in the workplace, we should all be working together until we have achieved an America where women are truly paid equal pay for equal work.”

Since the bill is unlikely to pass Congress, President Barack Obama issued an executive order today that would prohibit federal contractors from punishing employees for exchanging information about their pay. The President also directed the Labor Department to start requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data by race and gender.

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