Reform Movement Commends Paycheck Fairness Act Reintroduction

Washington, D.C., March 25, 2015 – On the occasion of the reintroduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

We applaud today’s reintroduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would take steps to correct pay discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. This bill would provide additional, effective protection against sex-based pay discrimination by allowing women to receive the same remedies in court for pay discrimination as those subjected to discrimination based on race or national origin—a critical tool for ensuring pay equity for American women.

In the United States today, women on average earn 78 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. Women of color face an even greater disparity, with African American and Latina women earning an average of 64 and 54 cents on the dollar, respectively. The gender wage gap persists at all levels of education, within occupations and across industries. The pervasiveness of this disparity indicates that deeply embedded pay discrimination, rather than women’s occupational decisions, is responsible for the injustice of pay inequity. 

Jewish tradition has long recognized the importance of paying fair wages as a matter of justice. In Leviticus 19:13, we are taught that to withhold a worker’s wages is to defraud her, an act akin to robbery. In Genesis 1:27, we learn that all human beings are created b’tselem Elohim, in the image of the divine, and are thus deserving of equal rights and treatment. Together, these teachings compel us to fight for fair wages for all people, so that gender no longer prevents anyone in our society from earning just compensation for their work.

We urge all members of Congress to join with lead sponsors Senator Barbara Mikulski and Representative Rosa DeLauro in support of this bill to help ensure that all Americans earn equal pay for equal work.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.

Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), founded in 1913, is the women’s affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. WRJ represents tens of thousands of women in hundreds of women’s groups worldwide and promotes women’s issues and leadership through education, programming, and advocacy. Visit www.wrj.org for more.

Published: 03/25/2015

WRJ has started an effort to raise awareness and inspire action on pay equity, an issue near and dear to our hearts. Join us as we work to promote pay equity in our workplaces, synagogues, and communities!

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