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Push for equal pay continues in Ohio

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(The Center Square) – The quickest way to build up the economy in Ohio is to pay women the same as men, a gender advocacy group says.

The belief teams with two proposed pieces of state legislation recently introduced that would allow women to report wage discrimination and recognize businesses closing the pay gap.

Sens. Kent Smith, D-Euclid, and Paula Hicks-Hudson, D-Toledo, introduced a bill that creates a toll-free equal pay hotline and another that recognizes workplaces closing the pay gap.

“The fastest and most effective way to strengthen Central Ohio’s economy is to pay women equitably,” said Kelley Griesmer, president and CEO of The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. “We are excited Senator Smith and Senator Hicks-Hudson are introducing this legislation because pay equity sets the foundation for wealth building, along with policies like paid family leave, affordable child care, and accessible transportation and housing. The Women’s Fund will continue to advocate for these policies, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with lawmakers to help women in Ohio thrive.”

Senate Bill 231 creates an anonymous hotline to allow workers to report pay discrimination and get information to determine if they are being discriminated against.

Senate Bill 232 allows workplaces to earn a “Fair Paycheck Workplace” designation from the Ohio Department of Commerce and be recognized as a leader in paycheck fairness.

“This is not the first time we have raised these issues and introduced this legislation,” Smith said. “It is shameful that the majority party has not joined Democratic efforts to fix this issue that affects Republican women and Republican daughters, too.”

Both bills await committee assignments.

As previously reported by The Center Square, the push for equality isn’t new in the Statehouse.

Nearly a year ago, lawmakers reintroduced the Ohio Equal Pay Act that would allow employees to talk about their salaries freely, and employers would not be able to ask applicants about salary history under proposed legislation currently before the Ohio House.

The bill would also stop an employer from asking for information about or seeking a potential employee’s wage or salary history from either the applicant or the current or former employer.

It would also prohibit companies from placing gag orders on employees to keep them from talking about their salaries with each other.

Businesses with four or more employees that contract with the state or receive state economic development grant packages would be required to receive an equal pay certificate. The certificates certify an employer offers growth opportunities to all employees, regardless of gender.

The bill has yet to have a hearing in the House.

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