The city of San Antonio has now officially been served a lawsuit that claims two women at Animal Care Services were paid significantly less than their male colleagues doing the same jobs.
Their attorney, Lawrence Morales, points to clear evidence that the city violated the Equal Pay Act. He feels confident about data he said shows his clients were compensated less than the male managers at the city's Animal Care Services department.
Equal pay for women has become a rallying cry for Democrats across Texas. Wendy Davis' campaign for governor has seized on the issue, making it central to her messaging.
Attorney General Greg Abbot, who is on the Republican ticket in the race for governor, has dismissed the issue, but was recently criticized when women in his own office were found to be paid less than their male colleagues for the same work.
Last year the Texas Legislature passed a state law allowing women who were discriminated against by their employers in pay to sue in state court. Gov. Rick Perry subsequently vetoed the bill, calling it redundant:
"Texas' commitment to smart regulations and fair courts is a large part of why we continue to lead the nation in job creation. House Bill 950 duplicates federal law, which already allows employees who feel they have been discriminated against through compensation to file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission." - Gov. Rick Perry
The federal law Perry refers to is the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which allows women to sue in federal court. The state version is better, said advocates, because it allowed for a quicker response at the local level, criticizing the federal court system as underfunded and slow. The Texas Association of Business wrote Perry to support a veto, arguing that the bill increased cumbersome regulation and frivolous lawsuits.
“Asking an employer to be responsible for decisions that were made 10 or 15 years ago just does not work. In many cases no one would be around that would know anything about why those decisions were made at the time. The lack of a statute of limitations for filing these cases is bad for business, and this bill is bad for business, pure and simple.” - Bill Hammond, president TAB
The 12-member Democratic Caucus in the Texas Senate is urging Lt. Gov. David Dewurst to add an interim charge that allows state lawmakers to study gender pay equality within state agencies. Dewhurst indicated he would consider setting up a Senate investigation.
The request for an investigation is in response to recent news that men and women with the same job title at the Texas attorney general’s office have an estimated $6,000 salary gap.
Equal pay laws have become the main focus in in the governor's race between Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott, but how much can equal pay laws actually accomplish for the issue?
Joseph Fishkin, a discrimination law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said equal pay laws boil down to one question: When do you have to file a lawsuit? That question gave rise to the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which defines that a complainant has 180 days from the time wage discrimination was discovered.
Incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has said he would allow another equal pay law to go before lawmakers for a vote, but a political expert says those comments may hurt Dewhurst during the May runoff election.
Following his speech in Arlington to a group of Republican women, Dewhurst, who as lieutenant governor allowed an equal pay for women bill to make it to the Senate floor for a vote, told WFAA-TV that if he won this year's election he would once again move the bill through the process.
Democratic women’s groups are weighing in on a new report showing women working in Attorney General Greg Abbott's office are paid less than their male counterparts. The numbers come on the heals of a major battle between Abbott and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis over equal pay laws.
Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 1:26 pm
Comments from GOP figures in Texas are reviving the debate there over fair pay. Cari Christman, executive director of a Texas political action committee (PAC) called Red State Women was recently asked on local TV station WFAA about legislation to address the pay gap between men and women.
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told a group of 150 attendees at a women's economic forum Saturday that they must join together to push for pay equity, work-life balance and benefits that equal the playing field for women and their families.
Pelosi joined Rosie Castro and Congressman Joaquin Castro for the event at the Young Women's Leadership Academy, where Castro told the audience that 100 percent of the girls in the senior class had been accepted to college.
A new study completed by the city's human resources department shows there is no pay disparity between male and female employees who work for the city. District 7 Councilman Cris Medina requested the city take a look at potential pay disparities.
On Wednesday, Joe Angelo, chief human resources officer, went before the council's governance committee, and said there is no systemic evidence that pay disparities exist within the city.