Ongoing pay gap a focal point on Equal Pay Day

Advocates across the country are drawing attention to the ongoing pay gap between men and women by marking "equal pay day". On average, women earn about 20% less than their male peers and it could take 100 years to close the gap.

Pitt, McGehee, Palmer & Rivers is the largest employment law and civil rights firm in Michigan. They're busy for a reason: the pay gap in Michigan between men and women is 78 cents to every dollar.

Attorney Jennifer Lord spoke for the firm who says this is a major problem in every job.

"Unfortunately, I've learned that pay discrimination is alive and well," Lord said. "I used to think maybe it was in traditionally more male-dominate countries - maybe working on the line. What I've come to find is this is a problem across the board." 

April 10th is labeled Equal Pay Day because if a woman works the same job as a man in the previous year, you would have to work through April 10 to earn the same amount he did in 2017.

"That's what I like about today: it's just a concrete example. It's not just a statistic. Women have to work 4 months more to earn the same by the end of the year," Lord said.

In Michigan, women make about $11,000 less per year than men for the same job with the same qualifications. African American women make 63 cents to every dollar and Latina women make 58 cents. 

Lord says this is a legal issue and there are state and federal laws that companies break when there is a clear disparity. 

"I can tell you we keep track of our hours. By the time we get to trial, I've spent more than 200,000 dollars worth of my time. that's a pretty bitter pill for an employer to swallow," she said.

At the rate Women's wages are increasing, studies show it will take 100 years for women to make the same as men.Lord says it's going to take more women speaking up, but mostly employers realizing it benefits everyone in the long run to keep it balanced.

"We as a society should continue to do what we're doing today to talk about it, to not forget about it," Lord said.