What Is All The Fuss About The New Oregon Pay Equity Law?

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Most people are aware of the limits imposed on women because of the invisible glass ceiling they are forced to live under each and every day of their lives, but fewer think about or acknowledge that there are similar restrictions imposed on disabled workers or those who are born first underneath a waving flag that does not have fifty stars on it. A new law based on equity of pay could help everyone not making as much as their white male counterparts, and a lot of people see this as a boon to everyone.

The pay gap between disabled workers and healthy white male workers is much, much bigger than it should be: for every dollar a healthy white male makes, disabled workers with a high school education make 37 percent less. Although this may not be an immediate concern for those who seem mostly unaffected (i.e. those who are making what their earning potential might indicate they should be making), it should be a concern to everyone.

Any person who is earning less than their potential should allow them to earn means that there are fewer tax dollars to be spent as a result. In fact, the government acknowledges that pay gaps such as these lead to about $31.5 billion in tax revenue that essentially falls into a chasm, never to be seen again (although this is not bad for business). Without the additional monies, governments are forced to find new ways of obtaining revenue–and sometimes that negatively impacts people who are making what they should be making.

Disabled workers are generally dismissed when it comes to earning potential, but more of us recognize the lack of equal pay when it comes to women: they make 20 percent less than their male counterparts. African American women make 37 percent less, and Hispanic women are paid a whopping 46 percent less. At the end of the day, that money stays in the hands of the employers and gets taken out of the rest of our pockets. It is something we just do not think about when we consider the impacts of equality and is a reason most people could get behind when considering the fight for equal pay.

Oregon’s Fair Pay for All bill creates new protections for workers whose pay is considered unequal: those who work with disabilities, who have a different race, color, sex, religion, origin, age, sexual orientation, etc. would see these new protections implemented. Veterans would also experience less discrimination as a result. Interestingly, the bill would keep employers from knowing your last salary–which means they cannot use it to determine what they will pay you at the new job.

At the end of the day, this bill will help local and state economies, boost tax revenue, and make individual lives all that much better.

Even though this new law should help disabled workers throughout the state of Oregon, that does not mean they must wait until it goes into effect to help themselves make the most out of their time on and off the job. An experienced disability attorney can help workers recoup wages lost because of diminished earning potential or damages from injuries sustained in the pass. In the future, however, workers will have more of a net to fall upon. We’re one step further into the future, and it feels pretty good.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, always revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance producer for USA Today, and a contributor at Technorati. She lives in Utah with her 2 kids and husband. Melissa Thompson can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter @melthompson88. Please follow and friend her on either site.