LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Tuesday was National Pay Equity Day – because according to statistics, women would have to work through April 17 of 2012 to make as much as the average man did for the year 2011.
Local Democratic legislatures gathered downtown to commemorate the day, and call for equal pay for equal work.
Senator Jennifer Shilling (D, La Crosse), Representative Jill Billings (D, La Crosse) and Representative Steve Doyle (D, Onalaska) all attended.
They said women currently earn about 77 cents per dollar of what men do.
Billings also criticized Governor Scott Walker's recent decision to repeal Wisconsin's Equal Pay Enforcement Act.
The act allowed those who'd encountered pay discrimination at work to sue for back wages, attorneys' fees and punitive damages in state court.
Billings said under previous law, those individuals were only allowed to sue for two years of back wages in state court.
"I think women should be able to get those compensatory and punitive damages and bad employers should be held accountable," Billings said.
"Even for the employers who are good and don't discriminate, when you have bad actors out there, that's an unfair playing field for everyone," she added.
But the Governor's office said in a written statement that those who encounter pay discrimination at work will still be able to seek appropriate compensation.
"Individuals subject to discrimination will continue to be able to seek these damages in federal court and are eligible for back pay, reinstatement, court costs, and attorney fees just as they were under prior law," said spokesperson Cullen Werwie.
"This act removes a duplicative and unnecessarily costly process related to seeking punitive and compensatory damages in state court, allowing trial lawyers to raise their pay outs. It does not single out any group of individuals. All individuals in Wisconsin will be treated the same as they have been for decades. Wisconsin has and will continue to have some of the strongest workplace protections in the nation," Werwie added.
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