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Equal Pay Day highlights salary inequities for Tennessee's working women

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT/TNS)  --  Tuesday marks Equal Pay Day, the point more than three months into 2018 when American women earn what American men earned in 2017.

In other words, it takes female workers more than 15 months to earn what their male colleagues earn in 12.

The Census Bureau says on average Tennessee women earn almost eight-thousand dollars less than men.

Tennessee State Representative John Ray Clemmons has introduced equal-pay legislation every year since he was elected in 2014.

"This legislation and this issue is about equality. Those are two of the most important Tennessee values that we all hold dear. There's absolutely no excuse for women to be paid less than men, all things being equal."

Among the items included in Clemmons' legislation is a provision that would increase wage transparency. Knowing what coworkers earn would make getting equal pay easier and prevent employer retaliation.

Toni Van Pelt with the National Organization for Women explains that pay inequality impacts women in ways well beyond a pay check.

"Equally as important is that if women are kept in a state of constant economic insecurity, they are more liable to feel that they must put up with sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace and in their education."

The National Federation of Independent Business and other equal pay opponents say there are already ways to address salary complaints, and equal pay legislation makes it difficult for small businesses.

The pay gap is worse for women of color, with black women earnings just 63 percent of what their white male counterparts are paid, and Latino women just 60 percent.