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The pay gap and African-American women

In California and throughout the country, African-American women in general make less money than both white and black men. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, which this year took place on July 31, tries to increase awareness about this issue. The day is chosen to represent the fact that it takes 19 months for the average pay of black women to catch up to the average pay of white non-Hispanic men. This is a few months longer than it takes white women on average to catch up.

On average, the pay of black women is 89 percent what African-American men are paid although more women have college degrees and are employed. White, non-Hispanic men who have completed high school make more on average than black women who have finished college. Throughout the life of an African-American woman, the pay gap increases and costs her more than $800,000 on average nationally and $1 million in certain areas such as Washington, D.C. This is the case despite the fact that most black women are breadwinners or share breadwinning duties.

Black women face other forms of workplace discrimination and harassment as well. This includes pressure to move away from natural hairstyles and various harmful stereotypes. With 28 percent of African-American women working in the service industry, they also face issues such as low wages and difficulty accessing health care.

Black women might also face a number of obstacles in reporting harassment and discrimination. They may fear retaliation, which could take the form of termination but might be also be more subtle in its affect on their career. An employment law attorney might suggest that the affected employee attempt to address the matter through internal channels. If the problem persists, filing a claim with the appropriate federal or state agency might be advisable.