WASHINGTON - In 2009, the Wisconsin legislature made it easier for victims of wage discrimination to have their day in court. That law is now on the verge of repeal.
The Equal Pay Enforcement Act was meant to deter employers from discriminating by giving workers more avenues to press charges. Among other provisions, it allows individuals to plead their cases in the less costly, more accessible state circuit court system, rather than just in federal court.
In November, the state Senate approved (SB 202) rolling back this provision. On Wednesday, the Assembly did the same. Both were party-line votes. The legislation is now in the hands of Gov. Scott Walker (R). His office did not return a request for comment on whether the governor would sign it.
“It really takes away the teeth and the enforcement aspect of equal pay in Wisconsin,” said Sara Finger, director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH).
Women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men make. In Wisconsin, it’s 75 cents, according to WAWH, which also estimates that families in the state “lose more than $4,000 per year due to unequal pay.”
State Sen. Dave Hansen (D) was one of the authors of the 2009 law, and said he had no doubt that Walker would sign the repeal of his legislation.
“The whole [Republican] agenda in this state is about attacks on workers,” he said. “It’s an ongoing assault on workers’ rights. But now it’s also taking the assault to workers in the private sector. It’s not just an assault on women. Older workers can be taken advantage of, and they’re hurting in this bad economy. It didn’t hurt business at all.” …