Bills put all people first with equal pay, equal opportunities, transparency

LANSING, Mich., March 19, 2024 — National Equal Pay Day has come and gone this year, and still the pay gap remains. As a way to diminish this inequality, to address issues of transparency and continue to demand equal rights, the bicameral Progressive Women’s Caucus (PWC) introduced a pay equity bill package, House Bills 5618-27. The majority of this package was introduced today, however, HBs 4405 and 4406 were introduced earlier last year. 

“It is long past due that we move this legislation forward. This package has more bills than the previous introductions in years past, because, unfortunately, people need more safeguarded mechanisms to defeat discrimination,” said Speaker Pro Tem Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus. “We’ve seen the hate and divisiveness — most recently, it was blatantly clear with the Republican bills that seek to diminish diversity, equity and inclusion. These bills don’t only pertain to women, but all individuals and their rights to equal pay, no matter who they are. This legislative package is for all those who feel and see the discrimination within their paychecks and in their workplaces.” 

This 12-bill package works to diminish the discrepancies between pay, by providing equal pay certification, requiring employers to educate employees of their equal pay rights and requiring employers to follow certain protocol such as prohibiting inquiries about previous wage situations, or wage discrimination, and would allow for anonymous wage discrimination reporting through the Civil Rights Division.

“We must continue to find ways to close the pay gaps. As my fellow Democratic colleagues and I continue to commit to putting people first, this package of bills is just another testament to that,” said state Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit). “Together, this package of bills will make a real difference in Michiganders’ lives by empowering workers with the knowledge and awareness of their rights and how to address wage discrimination, especially for women of color.”

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that women make up a little over 50% of Michigan’s population, and yet women’s pay is not equal; they also reported that full time working women earn 84 cents to every dollar a man does. LGBTQ+ individuals tend to receive only 90 cents per dollar of a typical worker. As discrimination continues to be easily identified in the statistics, House Dems are working for equality for all people.

“We want people to stay in our state, and we want Michigan workers to have high quality working conditions. This package allows us to ensure transparency and accountability in employer practices regarding wages. From allowing employees to report discrimination safely and anonymously, to expanding the definition of prohibition of wage discrimination, we are changing lives for the better,” said state Reps. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids), sponsor of HB 5621. “This legislation is about accountability and fairness.”