Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said allowing women to be paid less than men on every dollar they earn is something that needs to be changed, even though new legislation proposing equal pay was filibusted.Rockefeller, voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act on June 5 after it was introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulksi, D-Md., and was disappointed the legislation was filibustered. Its backers could not get the 60 votes needed to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote.The Equal Pay Act, signed into law in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, prohibits employers from discriminating against women in wages and benefits -- when men and women performed similar work.
The new legislation would strengthen the 1963 law, Rockefeller wrote in a letter to constituents, "by allowing women to recover punitive damages in egregious discrimination cases; requiring employers to show a work-related reason for paying men and women unequal wages; and prohibiting retaliation against employees who discuss their salaries with other employees ..."
"I believe that it is absolutely essential that we prevent pay discrimination and make sure that women receive equal pay for equal work."Today, West Virginia women earn only 70 cents for every dollar men earn.Shortchanging women's paychecks, Rockefeller added, can also reduce their retirement benefits both through Social Security and private pensions.