Actress Patricia Arquette made headlines during her Oscar speech when she called for equal rights for women once and for all.
Nationally, most figures point to a 77-cent to the dollar wage gap between full-time working men and women, but that figure doesn’t take into account career types and cultural influences.
In Nevada, that number sits at about 87-cents to the dollar.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson and Democratic Senator Pat Spearman both introduced bills to close that wage gap, but the bills have fundamental differences.
Sen. Roberson’s bill would empower the state's Equal Rights Commission to administer fines to businesses that discriminate and strengthen existing Nevada discrimination protection laws.
Sen. Spearman’s bill incorporates parts of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, to further protect employees who file discrimination lawsuits and impose harsher consequences for employers that are found to have discriminated against an employee.
Spearman told KNPR’s State of Nevada that her bill would ultimately make it illegal to reduce someone’s wages based upon her gender.
“It will allow economic freedom for woman and it would also improve the economic standing of families,” Spearman said.
Despite the state’s attempts, total work equality may be a long way off, as local attorneys specializing in employment law handle case after case of wage discrimination.
Andrew Rempfer is one of those attorneys. He is representing a woman who is suing Station Casinos over equal pay. He said the discussion over equal pay is 95 years too late.
“I can’t believe its 2015 and we’re still arguing about equal pay for equal work,” Rempfer said. “It’s shocking and disappointing.”
Since in 1933, it has been legal for people to ask co-workers what they’re making; however, that protection has been interpreted several different ways by the courts, which is why Spearman included in her bill protection for workers who discuss what they’re making.
“That kind of transparency is so important to prevent discrimination in the first place,” said Sarah Glynn the director of women’s economic policy at the Center for American Progress.
Spearman said she is seeking real change that impacts Nevada families and said the legislation is far from “window dressing.”
“I’ve made my bill the strongest bill possible to protect women from pay discrimination,” Spearman said.
State Sen. Pat Spearman, D - North Las Vegas
Andrew Rempfer, Las Vegas attorney
Sarah Glynn, director of women’s economic policy, Center for American Progress
State Sen. Pat Spearman, D - North Las Vegas; Andrew Rempfer, Las Vegas attorney; Sarah Glynn, director of women’s economic policy, Center for American Progress