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Hicks-Hudson, Smith Introduce Pay Equity Legislation

February 27, 2024
Paula Hicks-Hudson News

Today, state Senators Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) held a press conference to announce the introduction of two bills that would help close the gender wage gap. They were joined by The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio and the Ohio Federation of Business and Professional Women.

"As Americans and Ohioans, we believe in a system where you get paid for the work you do," said Smith. "When we do not see that reality, we as policymakers should strive to fix it. An equal pay hotline and a fair paycheck workplace certification program would help fix this problem. Make no mistake— the pay equity gap is an enduring moral failure of civil society. It is manmade (pun intended), but the good news is that it is also 100% fixable."

Though American women are still paid only 84% of what men make for doing the same jobs, Ohio women are even further behind, being paid only 79% of what men in Ohio make according to the latest American Association of University Women report. These numbers are even worse for women of color. Nationally, Black women are paid 67 cents for every $1 paid to white men, and Hispanic and Latina women, as well as Native women, are paid only 57 cents.

“Women have to fight for autonomy of their bodies, and protection from violence against them because of their gender,” said Hicks-Hudson. “We are still having to fight for equal pay for equal work. This legislation, when passed, will help elevate women out of poverty and benefit Ohio's economy.”


Senate Bill 231 establishes a toll-free equal pay hotline, an easily accessible, anonymous resource for Ohio workers to report wage discrimination and gather more information to find out if they could be victims of pay discrimination.

“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 childcare, 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.”

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission, where Ohioans can currently file individual or group charges of discrimination for investigation, would operate the pay equity hotline. Calls can be made anonymously through the hotline. Anonymity is not required but is an option for those who may fear retribution from their employer for filing a complaint.


Senate Bill 232 creates a program administered by the Ohio Department of Commerce to recognize workplaces that are succeeding at closing the pay gap between men and women. The program would allow workplaces to earn a “Fair Paycheck Workplace” designation from the Ohio Department of Commerce and be recognized as a leader in paycheck fairness.

“It is so important to recognize the businesses that are doing right by their employees," said Patricia Talbot, Legislative Chair of the Ohio BPW, an organization that advocates for workplace equity for woman. "As advocates for women in the workplace, we have a lot of good and also some bad players. This program will encourage businesses to play fair.”

Interested businesses would apply for the “Fair Paycheck Workplace” designation by submitting recent payroll records identifying their employees’ average earnings and genders. The designation would be earned by demonstrating that average earnings for men and women within the company are within 5 percentage points. These criteria would need to be met at the time of the application, six months following the initial application, and then could be renewed annually moving forward.

“This is not the first time we have raised these issues and introduced this legislation,” said Smith. 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 Senate bills await committee assignment and hearings.

Watch the full press conference here.