The pay gap between men and women is wider in Settle than any other major city, according to a recent report by the National Partnership for National Partnership for Women and Families and Families. More specifically, full-time employed Seattle women make a mere 73 cents for every dollar her male counterpart makes. It may be hard to fully grasp this discrepancy when speaking in cents….what it does amount to is an annual difference of $16,346. With just under 150,000 Seattle households being headed by women, this gender pay discrepancy really does add up, especially over the years.
Here’s a look at some other additional interesting Washington and national pay discrimination conclusions from the report:
On a national level, women earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by men
Los Angeles had the smallest pay gap– a mere 8 cent difference between genders
The national pay gap is closing at a slow half cent per year
Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Detroit comprised the other major cities with high gender wage gaps
Just why Seattle has such a large gap as compared to Los Angeles was not analyzed. One general reason that is often cited for discrepancies in gender salaries has to do with lifestyle choices women make after they marry and have children and ultimately demand more flexibility in their work arrangement than their male counterparts. That being said, female employees in Seattle and throughout the rest of the country have made great professional and educational progress over the last century and now comprise half of the national workforce.
So when does a gender pay gap turn into a form of actionable workplace discrimination? Like almost every legal question out there, the answer to this one is: it depends. Gender (or Sex discrimination as it is often called) in Washington essentially involves treating an employee an applicant unfavorably because of his or her sex. These types of workplace discrimination cases require actual proof that a woman (or a man) is being denied a promotion, a raise or even a job because of their sex. Working with a Washington employment attorney can help you determine if the actions you are experiencing rise to the level of discrimination and what legal options you have to resolve the situation.
Congress is currently looking into enacting legislation to make that half cent per year movement move a little faster with the Paycheck Fairness Act. Considered a much needed update and addition to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Paycheck Fairness Act would provide enforcement tools and remedies that the Equal Pay Act does not currently provide. Acts of retaliation against an employee (i.e. firing, demotions or otherwise negative treatment) who ask about their employers’ wage practices or seek justification for gender pay discrepancies would be illegal and punished accordingly. The reality of this is that sometimes an employer will have a proper reasoning for a discrepancy and sometimes they will not; either way additional accountability always helps put people on alert.