Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation seeking to close the wage gap in Ohio and ensure that women earn as much as men in the workforce.
State Reps. Stephanie Howse of Cleveland and Jessica Miranda of Forest Park recently sponsored the “Ohio Equal Pay Act,” which sets new requirements for public employers as well as business entities pursuing grants and contracts with the Ohio government.
In short, Democrats want employers to be more conscious of the gender and wage dynamics in their workplaces in order to make strides toward fairness where needed. These efforts are needed, Howse said in a statement announcing the bill, because “Ohio’s gender wage gap continues to hold back women, families and our economy. We can’t get ahead as a state if half of our workforce is undervalued and underpaid.”
Public employers would be required to determine all of the job classifications at a given workplace, then see how many men and women are working in each classification. The goal would be to find out if there are pay disparities between job types held primarily by women versus those primarily held by men.
Private employers vying for government contracts or grants would first be required to have an “Equal Pay Certificate,” essentially assuring they follow existing laws guaranteeing equal workplace opportunities for women. The Ohio Department of Administrative Services would issue these certificates for a $25 fee.
The bill would prohibit any employer from requesting a prospective employee’s wage history unless a job offer has already been made. It would also prohibit an employer from punishing any employee for discussing salary and wage information with colleagues.
Howse and Miranda cite 2019 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that Ohio women working full-time earned 81.4% of what men earned. This is a general comparison of all Ohioans working all jobs — women recorded median earnings of $825 per week, compared to $1,014 for men. The nationwide data from 2019 was nearly identical.
“I’m proud to put forward legislation that will advance economic justice, give women the paychecks they deserve, and make Ohio a more business and worker friendly state for everyone,” Miranda said in a statement.
Dozens of other House Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors. The bill has not yet received its first committee hearing.