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Lightford overrides Rauner African-American Equal Pay Act veto

Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

SPRINGFIELD – More than half a century since the Civil Rights Act became law, workers in the United States continue to earn different wages based on their race.

Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is fighting for legislation that would prohibit wage discrimination against African-Americans under the Equal Pay Act.

“Governor Rauner ignored the wage gap for African-Americans and decided he wanted to ‘All Lives Matter’ this proposal,” Lightford said. “Today, we made sure that wage equity continues to be a priority in Illinois.”

According to a 2017 Federal Reserve study, black men and women earn persistently lower wages compared to their white counterparts and this wage gap cannot be adequately explained by differences in education, age, job type or location.

That gap appears to be expanding rather than contracting. In 1979, the average lack man in the United States earned about 80 percent compared to the average white man, by 2016 that gap had grown to 70 percent.  The same is true for black women, who in 1979 earned about 95 percent compared to white women, but by 2016 earned only 82 percent of wages paid to white women on average.

House Bill 4743 prohibits employers from paying wages to an African-American employee at a rate less than the rate paid to an employee who is not African-American for the same or substantially similar work.

Governor Rauner’s veto was overridden in the Senate with a vote of 49-01.