State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, the presumed Democratic candidate for governor, asked the state treasurer on Wednesday to conduct a study to see if female state employees are paid less for the same work.
Equal pay for female workers was one of the issues Sheheen’s campaign rolled out Wednesday as part of his "Women’s Agenda." The Camden attorney, expected to face Republican Gov. Nikki Haley a second time in November, also called for stiffer domestic violence penalties and boosting women-owned small businesses.
Sheheen noted in his letter to State Treasurer Curtis Loftis that South Carolina is one of only five states that does not have an equal pay law. Women earn 77 cents for every $1 men make, according to U.S. Census data. Women account a little less than half of South Carolina’s total workforce.
“Paying them less than men simply because of gender makes no sense, and in a country founded on freedom and opportunity – it is also just not fair,” Sheheen wrote to Loftis. “I believe it is imperative that women receive equal pay for equal work.”
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Full text of Sheheen's letter
March 12, 2014
The Honorable Curtis LoftisTreasurer of South CarolinaBy Hand Delivery
Dear Treasurer Loftis:
Women are a key part of our state economy and our businesses, as well as our families. We know from independent research that entire families suffer when women do not receive equal pay for equal work.
Currently, South Carolina is one of only five states that does not have some form of equal pay law, which would prohibit a difference in pay based solely on gender or require equal pay for equal work. This is concerning on many levels.
The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that nationally women earn only $0.77 for every $1.00 that a man makes. In South Carolina, there is anecdotal evidence that women fall even further behind.
Women comprise over 51 percent of the population here in South Carolina, and account for approximately 48 percent of our total workforce. Paying them less than men simply because of gender makes no sense, and in a country founded on freedom and opportunity – it is also just not fair.
I believe it is imperative that women receive equal pay for equal work. And in order for us to move forward on this issue, we must first have a full account of exactly where we are now. Therefore, I respectfully request that you and your office examine the wages currently being paid to South Carolina's state employees based on position and gender to determine if female state employees are being compensated equally with their male counterparts for equal work.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Senator Vincent Sheheen