Kolste backs law to ensure equal pay for women

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staff, Gazette
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

— Rep. Debra Kolste said Monday she would be a co-sponsor of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which was repealed during the last legislative session.

The act was designed to close the gap between men’s and women’s wages.

This week is National Equal Pay Week.

“It apparently worked,” said Kolste, D-Janesville. “The act was signed into law in 2009, and within a year, women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings rose by 3 percent.”

Wisconsin jumped 12 spots nationally in terms of gender pay equity, from 36th to 24th, while the law was in place.

“The law did not hamper business,” Kolste said. “Employers were not tied up in court defending against lawsuits. Not a single lawsuit was filed while the law was in place. The law worked as a deterrent to paying men more than women for equal work.”

During her campaign last fall, Kolste criticized the legislative majority for repealing the act. Senate Bill 202, which repealed the act, continued the prohibition against wage discrimination but removed the possibility of recovering damages.

“Employers who discriminate on wages and are caught are responsible for the back wages only,” Kolste said. “They have to pay what they actually owed in the first place. There is no incentive to do the right thing.”

Last updated: 10:27 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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