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Women's Economic Security Act
Last week, the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee approved a bill (HF 2274) authored by State Representative Sandra Masin (DFL-Eagan). The bill became one of seven parts(*)
of the Women's Economic Security Act (HF 2536) carried by Rep. Carly Melin.
Masin's bill bars discrimination or retaliation against any employee who discusses salaries and wages with fellow employees. All too often, a worker is threatened by an employer or fired for participating in a discussion about wages in the workplace. It is the law of the land that employees receive equal pay for equal work, but if they do not have information about the comparable wages, they have no way to secure their rights.
With more and more women in the workplace, the University of Minnesota Humphrey School's Center on Women & Public Policy study found that families headed by women are four times more likely to live in poverty. Moreover, the median pay of women is only 80% of the median pay of men.
Clearly, having more information about the pay at the workplace will go a long way in securing equal rights for women in the workplace in the area of payscales. Said Rep. Masin:
"These bills [Women's Economic Security Act] are designed to make sure all workers have equal rights and opportunities in the work place, [..] More and more households are depending on women to support them financially, and now is the time to address the barriers that are still in place for those women."
Rep. Masin wrote in her blog
The Women's Economic Security Act builds on Minnesota's positive economic momentum by ensuring equal opportunities for women to succeed in the workplace and provide for their families. Members of the public, small business owners, and religious organizations testified in support of the bill at today's hearing.(*)
In addition to the main bill by Rep. Carly Melin, the other 5 components of the legislation heard during last week's committee hearing were:
- Rep. Yvonne Selcer: Author of HF 2243 (Women entrepreneurs business development grant program created, and money appropriated).
- Rep. Barb Yarusso: Author of HF 2259 (Nursing mothers; unfair employment practices clarified).
- Rep. Will Morgan: Author of HF 2291 (Women's economic self-sufficiency promoted; gender segregation in the workforce reduced; gender pay gap reduced through the participation of women in high-wage, high-demand, nontraditional occupations; women and nontraditional jobs grant program established; and money appropriated).
- Rep. Paul Rosenthal: Author of HF 2366 (Unemployment benefits eligibility modified when applicant is a victim of sexual assault or stalking).
- Rep. Phyllis Kahn: Author of HF 2371 (Pregnancy and parenting leave provided, and pregnancy accommodations required).