Lightford051018SPRINGFIELD – More than half a century since the Civil Rights Act became law, workers in the United States continue to earn different wages based on their race.

Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is fighting for legislation that would prohibit wage discrimination against African-Americans under the Equal Pay Act.

“It is long overdue that African-Americans are paid a fair and equal wage for their work,” Lightford said. “My hope is that this legislation will provide the tools to close the wage gap between African-Americans and their white counterparts.”



According to a 2017 Federal Reserve study, black men and women earn persistently lower wages compared to their white counterparts and this wage gap cannot be adequately explained by differences in education, age, job type or location.

That gap appears to be expanding rather than contracting. In 1979, the average black man in the United States earned about 80 percent compared to the average white man, by 2016 that gap had grown to 70 percent.  The same is true for black women, who in 1979 earned about 95 percent compared to white women, but by 2016 earned only 82 percent of wages paid to white women on average.



House Bill 4743 prohibits employers from paying wages to an African-American employee at a rate less than the rate paid to an employee who is not African-American for the same or substantially similar work.

The measure was approved by the Senate Labor Committee Wednesday and will move to the full Senate for consideration.

Category: News

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