Monthly Archives: March 2018

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    Equal pay legislation becomes law, adds penalties for discrimination

Equal pay legislation becomes law, adds penalties for discrimination

March 21st, 2018|

Employees who are paid differently, based on gender, from workplace counterparts who do the same work with the same experience now have better protection under state law.

House Bill 1506, signed into law today by Gov. Inslee, modifies the Equal Pay Act to provide a range of remedies, from damages and civil penalties assessed by the state Department of Labor & Industries to civil action brought by an employee. The law also adds protections for employees who are offered unequal workplace opportunities based on gender and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages or benefits with other employees.

“Women today earn an average of 79 cents on the dollar compared to men with the same experience doing the same work,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, the sponsor of companion legislation in the Senate. After her bill passed the Senate and HB 1506 passed the House, lawmakers agreed to go with the House bill. Cleveland has promoted equal pay legislation since 2013.

“When I first began fighting for pay equality, people asked me, ‘Is this still a problem?’” Cleveland said. “What they didn’t realize is that while the Equal Pay Act of 1943 called for equal pay between men and women for comparable work, the reality is that society has not caught up.”

Twenty-three other states already offer protections for employees who are paid less on the basis of gender. This bill would make Washington the second state in the nation, after Maryland, to provide protections for employees who are offered lesser opportunities in a workplace based on gender.

“Many women, including and especially women of color, earn even less than the 79-cent average for women overall,” Cleveland said. “It’s time to make pay equity a reality so that our children and grandchildren don’t have to fight these same battles.”

“When people doing the same work are compensated unequally, it’s not just the employee who is short-changed; it’s everyone in that employee’s household,” Cleveland said. “And this discrepancy reverberates throughout the larger community, as smaller paychecks lead to a smaller tax base and less economic vitality.”

The legislation includes administrative remedies to help small business owners resolve complaints without being tied up in court. It is a key component of Senate Democrats’ “Putting People First” agenda of passing family-friendly legislation that had been blocked by Senate Republicans for several years.

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    Senate passes bill advancing effort to achieve equal pay for equal work for all genders

Senate passes bill advancing effort to achieve equal pay for equal work for all genders

March 1st, 2018|

The state Senate took aim at the generations-old practice of pay discrimination by passing legislation today on behalf of employees who are paid differently, based on gender, from workplace counterparts who do the same work with the same experience.

“When I first began fighting for pay equality in 2013, people asked me, ‘Is this still a problem?’ ” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver. “What they didn’t realize is that while the Equal Pay Act of 1943 called for equal pay between men and women for comparable work, the reality is that society has not caught up. Today women earn an average of 76 cents on the dollar compared to men with the same experience doing the same work.”

House Bill 1506, companion legislation to Cleveland’s Senate Bill 5140, modifies the Equal Pay Act to prohibit discrimination in compensation and provides remedies, including damages and civil penalties assessed by the state Department of Labor & Industries, and civil action brought by an employee. The bill would also provide protections for employees who are offered unequal workplace opportunities based on gender and prohibits employers from requiring employees not to discuss their wages with each other.

In 2017, Cleveland inserted a proviso into the state’s operating budget to extend protections to employees who work for vendors that contract with six Washington state agencies; this legislation extends those protections to employees of all businesses that operate in Washington state.

Cleveland pointed out that many women, including and especially women of color, earn even less than the 76-cent average for women overall, necessitating stronger enforcement at the state level. She further noted that the legislation is supported by a majority of citizens across Washington state.

“Reality has lagged behind the equal pay law for the better part of a century,” Cleveland said. “It’s time to make pay equity a reality so that our children and grandchildren don’t have to fight these same battles.”

Twenty-three other states already offer protections for employees who are paid less on the basis of gender. This bill would make Washington the second state in the nation, after Maryland, to provide protections for employees who are offered lesser opportunities in a workplace based on gender.

“When people doing the same work are compensated unequally, it’s not just the employee who is short-changed; it’s everyone in that employee’s household,” Cleveland said. “And this discrepancy reverberates throughout the larger community, as smaller paychecks lead to a smaller tax base and less economic vitality.”

The legislation includes administrative remedies to help small business owners resolve complaints without being tied up in court. It is a key component of Senate Democrats’ “Putting People First” agenda of passing family-friendly legislation that has been blocked by Senate Republicans in recent years.

Since the bill passed the House but was amended in the Senate, the differences in the two versions must be reconciled before it can be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

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    House passes Cleveland bill to maintain nation’s best home health care

House passes Cleveland bill to maintain nation’s best home health care

March 1st, 2018|

Legislation passed today by the House will preserve the state’s ability to provide a nationally recognized level of in-home health care at a lower cost than in 37 other states.

Having already passed out of the Senate, Senate Bill 6199 now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

“We have the best in-home care delivery system in the nation because we provide long-term care for seniors in their homes,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver and the bill’s sponsor. “But as we have grown as a state, the administrative support for our best-in-the-nation system has not kept up with that growth.”

The state depends on case managers at state-contracted Area Agencies on Aging to authorize care and check on clients in their homes to ensure they are safe and receive the services they need. Over the years, the administrative demands have grown to the point that case managers have had to take on an ever-increasing administrative load of paperwork for individual home care providers. As a result, medical social workers now handle payroll administration and verify continuing education compliance, Cleveland said.

“When the state took on this approach more than a decade ago, there were less than 2,000 individual providers, with no benefits or pay scales,” said Cleveland, the chair of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. “Today there are more than 35,000 providers trying to cope with a multiplying array of administrative requirements. This will let them focus on keeping our seniors health and safe in their homes.”

The bipartisan legislation will allow the Department of Social and Health Services to contract these growing administrative tasks to a private-sector vendor with the expertise to handle such work. Nineteen other states including Arizona, California and Nevada have already successfully adopted this approach of privatizing this administrative function.

“I was pleased to bring this bill forward at the request of the Area Agencies on Aging and DSHS to addresses a longstanding and increasing need,” Cleveland said. “When case managers are forced to juggle multiple responsibilities every day, every administrative task takes away from their ability to focus on their clients’ well-being.”