'It makes no sense:' Valley advocate reacts to death of equal pay bill

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) — Women's rights advocates in the Valley are disappointed after a bill mandating equal pay for equal work, regardless of the employee's gender, died in the Virginia General Assembly.

Kitchen said she would like to know exactly why delegates who voted "no" on the bill decided to do so.

The Virginia Equal Pay Act, HB 1089, would have prohibited wage discrimination based on gender or minority status. The bill also established criteria for when differences in pay would be permitted.

But last week, a house subcommittee killed it from advancing.

One women's rights advocate in the Valley said she does not know why she continues to be shocked.

"It's 2018," Jennifer Kitchen said. "Why we can't pass a bill that says that people deserve equal pay for equal work, no matter what their gender, race or creed, it makes no sense."

The vote to kill the bill was made along party lines, with 5 Republicans voting against it and 3 Democrats voting for it.

Voting to kill the bill were Republican Dels. Kathy Byron of Bedford; R. Lee Ware, Chesterfield; Israel O’Quinn, Grayson; Margaret Ransone, Westmoreland; and Michael Webert, Culpeper. Supporting the bills were Democratic Dels. Eileen Filler-Corn of Fairfax; Lamont Bagby, Henrico; and Michael Mullin, James City.

“By voting against equal pay for equal work, the message to Virginia women is loud and clear: Our lawmakers in Richmond do not consider us first-class citizens,” said Patsy Quick, co-president of the American Association of University Women of Virginia.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that in 2016, Virginia women working full time made 80 cents for every dollar made by men—a pay gap of 20 percent. As bad as this is, it is even worse for women of color,” Quick said.

For every dollar earned by a white man, black women make about 63 cents, Latinas 54 cents and white women 78 cents, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.