Minnesota Governor Mike Dayton signed a package of bills into law this weekend aimed at eliminating discrimination against women in the workplace.
The Women’s Economic Security Act includes 9 pieces of legislation that address a variety of issues women face in the workplace. The act will work to narrow the compensation gap between men and women in Minnesota by requiring larger-sized businesses that contract with the state at a certain amount to undergo a pay equity analysis and earn an “equal pay certificate.” The act also bans salary secrecy, doubles unpaid maternity leave time from 6 weeks to 12 weeks, creates more employment protections for nursing and pregnant women, and creates “safety leave” for those who need time off due to sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking, among several other changes.
“We know that strong women make a strong Minnesota, and that underlies the Women’s Economic Security Act,” said Representative Carly Melin. “When future generations look back we will be able to tell them that we did something to make the lives of working women and working families better.”
The act was originally introduced in January and passed the state’s House and Senate last week. Other states, including Nebraska and New York, have introduced expansive legislative packages to combat these problems as well. In July, Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) unveiled the “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds” agenda, which addresses universal childcare, a minimum wage increase, paid sick leave, and equal pay. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which was included in their legislative package, failed to advance in the Senate in April after a filibuster along party lines.
Media Resources: Minnesota Coalition for Women’s Economic Security; Northlands News Center 5/11/14; ThinkProgress 5/14/14; Office of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi; Feminist Newswire 1/30/14, 2/3/14, 4/9/14