Historical Highlights

Representative Winifred Stanley of New York

June 19, 1944
Representative Winifred Stanley of New York Image courtesy of Library of Congress Due to redistricting, Winifred Stanley of New York served only one term in the House before her At-Large seat was eliminated.
On this date, during the 78th Congress (1943–1945), Congresswoman Winifred Stanley of New York introduced one of the early equal pay for equal work legislative attempts. Representative Stanley proposed an amendment to the National Labor Relations Act to make it unlawful “to discriminate against any employee, in the rate of compensation paid, on account of sex.” With millions of women entering the home front workforce during World War II, she wanted to maintain in “peacetime the drive and energy which women have contributed to the war effort” and further declared that, “we shall be paying only lip service to those glorious and fundamental guarantees of our nation's heritage.” After its introduction, the bill was referred to the Committee on Labor, where it eventually expired. Despite the efforts of the Congresswomen who followed Stanley, equal pay for equal work legislation languished in congressional committees. Finally, in 1963, with Edith Green of Oregon shepherding through the legislation, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act became law. The bill decreed that no employer could pay a woman “at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex . . . on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.” The law allowed wage differences based on factors such as seniority and merit.

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