Women's rights organization pushing legislation to close pay gap between women and men

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For 19 years congress has fought over the Paycheck Fairness Act and this legislative session it continues to be a contentious issue for the senate and the house. (KFSN)

For 19 years congress has fought over the Paycheck Fairness Act and this legislative session it continues to be a contentious issue for the senate and the house.

"I'm not especially optimistic. The Paycheck Fairness Act did pass the House of Representatives in 2009, but since then it has not received enough support to go forward," said Dr. Blain Roberts, Fresno State University.

Dr. Roberts specializes in U.S. Women's and Gender History. She said this piece of legislation would be important to help women address pay inequity.

"One of the things it would do is, it would allow employees to openly share pay and wage information in the workplace without fear of retaliation from their employer."

According to US census' data website women are making about 92-percent of what men make in Fresno County. Compare that to neighboring Kern County where women make 73 cents to the man's dollar.

Kevin Miller is a researcher at the American Association of University Women. They're lobbying to get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed. He said there are several reasons for a gap in pay.

Men and women generally work very different jobs. While women are over-represented in healthcare and assistance occupations-- men are over-represented in machine trades and manufacturing.

Miller said those jobs tend to pay higher wages and on average men tend to work a little more than women-- but it doesn't explain everything.

"There's still an unexplained gap. A gap that can't be explained with any of these factors we know about. Most people assume that's the result of discrimination or bias."

But critics of the act say it would lead to excessive lawsuits against employers and burden companies.

Right now the act has 193 co-sponsors in the House and 44 co-sponsors in the Senate.

If passed it would be the first update to the equal pay act since 1963.
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