October 21st is Latina Equal Pay Day, marking the amount of time that a Latina woman in America must work in 2021 to catch up with what white, non-Hispanic men made in 2020. This disparity in income reflects the fact that Latina women on average make just 57 cents per every dollar made by white men, an unacceptable wage gap driven by systemic factors that make many Latinas especially vulnerable to discrimination and abuse in the workplace.
Though Latinos have the highest labor force participation rate of any group in the U.S., Latina women in particular overwhelmingly lack access to vital protections in the workplace, a key contributing factor to income inequality. Research shows that 51% of Latina women are unable to earn paid sick days through their jobs, though 60% of Latina mothers are key breadwinners for their families, meaning that their families’ finances are hit especially hard by unexpected illnesses and injuries.
We know that a lack of access to pregnancy accommodations and time and space to pump breast milk disproportionately affects women of color in low-wage jobs, particularly Latina women. Through our free and confidential legal helpline, we hear every day from pregnant women and new mothers who are horrifically mistreated in the workplace, denied accommodations, and pushed off the job when their paycheck is most crucial to their families.
The undervaluing of Latina workers’ labor and the rampant mistreatment of Latinas in the workforce shows the importance of furthering policies that dismantle systemic racism and sexism at the root and allow women of color to remain safe, healthy, fairly compensated, and attached to the workforce. On Latina Equal Pay Day, we are committed to lifting up Latina voices and fighting for policies like the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and paid leave for all, which will form key building blocks in promoting economic justice and equity for Latina workers nationwide.