Female workers in Texas and throughout the nation make approximately 80.5 cents for every dollar that a man makes according to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research. The disparity is even larger for black women as they make only 63 cents for each dollar a man makes. Latinas only make 54 cents on average for every dollar a male earns. The gap exists in almost every sector of the economy from retail to legal services.

Striving for equal pay for all workers could have significant implications for the economy as a whole. It is estimated that the economy would grow by $512 billion while the global economy could grow by $12 trillion if pay equity were achieved. Furthermore, it would allow workers of both genders to pay bills, save for retirement and generally have equal opportunities for success.

There are many steps that employers, lawmakers and employees can take to close the pay gap. For instance, many states allow workers access to salary data to see if they are being paid equally for doing equal work. Companies are ending the practice of using previous salaries to determine what a worker will make in his or her new job. Workers can help themselves by learning how to negotiate for higher salaries as this can work to accelerate the closing of the pay gap.

Individuals who feel as if they are victims of wage discrimination may want to pursue legal action against an employer. An attorney may be able to review the case and help a worker obtain a favorable outcome. Payroll records, statements from managers and other evidence might be used to show that discrimination has occurred. Those who are successful in proving their claims may be entitled to compensation for back pay and punitive damages.