Philly’s salary history ban promotes equal pay for Black women, activists say

That totals a gap of $25,799 each year for more than 218,600 Black women across the state. Over the course of a career that spans four decades, that can add up to nearly $1 million because of disparity in pay for Black women, according to estimates by the National Women’s Law Center. 

White women earn about 79 cents on the dollar and Latinas earn 55 cents on the dollar compared to their white male counterparts.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 already prohibits men and women to be paid different wages by employers for the same job.

But that disparity still exists — even in jobs where Black women represent the majority of workers like teachers and nurses — said Emily Martin, vice president for education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center.

“The Black women working in those jobs are still paid about 20% less than their white male counterparts in the same jobs,” Martin said. “It’s long past time for our nation to invest in Black women.”

To combat this reality, advocates say new laws are required such as one that’s been the law in Philadelphia for the past three years. Any employer in Philadelphia is prohibited from asking about salary history of workers during the hiring process. The goal is to untether workers — especially women — from lower salaries.

“If you are held to your prior salary, you are effectively forcing Black women to be stuck with that discriminatory pay going forward,” said Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families.

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