Atlanta City Council unanimously approves equal pay legislation

Women working for the City of Atlanta will soon receive equal pay for doing the same jobs as men after the Atlanta City Council voted to pass legislation that will secure their positions as city employees. The council voted unanimously in favor on Feb. 17.

City Council member and sponsor of the legislation Keisha Bottoms said this vote will begin to balance the pay disparities between men and women, according to an Atlanta City Council release.

bag“Several months ago, I sponsored a resolution calling upon the City of Atlanta to take the necessary steps to ensure that women throughout our workforce are receiving equal pay for equal work,” she said. “I am honored to have served as primary sponsor of legislation that now allows us to formally take the first step towards making this a reality.”

Bottoms also said many Atlanta homes are financially dependant on the women of the household, according to the release.

“A large percentage of households are led by women. This legislation sends a strong message throughout our city that we not only value the presence of women in our workforce, but most importantly, we recognize the impact that creating pay equity will have on countless families and communities,” she said.

The legislation allows the hire of a consultant firm to research the salaries of city employees and examine wage differences between the genders. The consultant firm will be managed by the City’s Department of Human Resources, according to the release.

The process will be overseen by the department’s Commissioner Yvonne Yancy, according to a report from WGCL-TV.
After the vote by the City Council, Mayor Kasim Reed announced he will sign the legislation into law in a City of Atlanta release.

“Women should receive equal pay for equal work. It’s unfortunate that some are still debating what should be common sense and law everywhere, but I also recognize the systemic discrimination that has held down women’s pay and want to address it proactively,” he said. “I proposed this legislation to ensure that women employees in every department receive fair pay for their work. I applaud the City Council for passing this legislation. We hope this will encourage other cities in Georgia and across America to follow or example.”

women at work
Women account for about half of the U.S. workforce.

Fifty-five percent of workers benefiting from minimum wage increase are women.

Women account for a higher concentration of workers in low-wage jobs such as food service, sales and personal care.

Women are the primary earners in 40 percent of U.S. households.

On average women make 23 percent less than men.

These statistics were collected from the White House website.

Georgia State freshman Rebekah Raegan said she believes women should receive pay equivalent to men.

“I think if they’re doing the same job then they definitely deserve equal pay and it will help the economy too.”
Reagan also said she is excited to live in a city passing such progressive legislation.

“That’s very good because I’ll eventually have a job here too, so I will want equal pay as well,” she said.
However, Reagan also said she is unsure if employees should compare and discuss their wages.

“It depends,” she said. “I don’t think it would be a big deal if they did. It might cause a little bit of tension, but if people talk about it more… maybe it can get solved faster without problems.”

Reed and the City Council both said they support the Obama Administration’s ongoing work to close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009, according to both the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta City Council’s releases.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act was the first piece of legislation signed by President Obama after his inauguration in 2009 and is named after a woman that learned her employer was paying women less than men to do the same job, according to a White House blog.

In 2007 Ledbetter’s case went before the Supreme Court which ruled wage claims had to be filed within 180 days of an employer’s decision to pay a worker less.

After an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 unfair pay claims can now be filed within 180 of a paycheck and resets after each new paycheck.

In April 2014 Obama signed an executive order making it illegal for federal employers to punish employees that choose to discuss their wages. Obama also signed a Presidential Memorandum requiring federal employers to submit data to the Department of Labor, including employee compensation, sex and race.