Washington State House Democrats


Washington in Danger of Being Left Behind on Equal Pay

California joins Oregon in passing Equal Pay legislation as Washington Senate flails

OLYMPIA – Despite existing state laws, Washington lags behind much of the country in equal pay for women. Most studies show women in Washington on average make 79 cents to every dollar earned by men, while women of color make even less at 46 cents compared to men.

To combat the gender wage gap, the Washington State House of Representatives passed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act. However, the Senate failed to act on the legislation authored by Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island). Now, Washington is at risk of falling behind regional economic competitors as the California Assembly today passed SB 358, which strengthens protections against pay discrimination and retaliation for workers who discuss or inquire about compensation. Oregon passed equal pay legislation earlier this year.

“I applaud California for moving forward on trying to close the gender wage gap, but am disappointed that Washington continues to lag behind,” said Rep. Senn. “California will now benefit from an improved economic outlook for women all across their state. I hope Washington will follow suit—creating consistent policies for business and fair practices for women employees up and down the West Coast—by passing my Equal Pay Opportunity Act legislation next session.”

“It is clear that paying people based on their skills, not their gender, is good for employees, for families and for business, which is why SB 358 received strong support from the California Chamber of Commerce,” said Senn.

Providing equal pay to all working women will cut their poverty rate in half. Women begin experiencing discrepancies in their pay compared to men right out of college and the disparity continues throughout their careers, negatively affecting our economy. In fact, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that U.S. GDP would grow by 3 percent if women were paid as much as men.

“When study after study shows that women aren’t paid equally, it’s time we do something about it. California has taken the right step forward; Washington needs to act quickly or risk being left behind. Women are half of the paid work force; it’s time for equal pay once and for all,” said Senn.