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Labor department partnering on initiative to help low-wage women workers

The Illinois Department of Labor has entered into a $350,000 partnership with a nonprofit group, Women Employed, to inform low-wage women about pay equity and pay transparency standards.

The partnership is made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fostering Access, Rights and Education (FARE) grant program. Illinois is one of six states and territories in the country to receive a grant for this work.

“Part of the mission at the Illinois Department of Labor is to protect the rights and wages of all workers in the state,” said Illinois Department of Labor Director Michael Kleinik.

IDOL intends to:

  • Conduct outreach to working women who are paid low wages and are otherwise marginalized and underserved.
  • Publicize educational materials across a variety of platforms, including social media, in-person or virtual events, and one-on-one consultations.
  • Assist women workers with navigating and calculating benefits.
  • Connect and refer women workers to additional services, benefits, and legal help as needed.
  • Through a train-the-trainer model, train women in the workforce to become advocates for rights, benefits, and assistance in their own communities.

The initiative “is directly aligned with our strategic focus, and we believe it will strengthen Illinois’ capacity to enforce pay equity and other employment protections,” said President and CEO of Women Employed Cherita Ellens.

The effort is intended to help realize the intended outcomes of legislative action, and bolster enforcement strategies and more proactive investigations, Ellens said.

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