Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton highlighted one way to help close the wage gap between women and men: make sure women can find out if they are being underpaid.
The law should crack down on employers who intimidate or retaliate against workers for talking about their wages, Clinton said Thursday at a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event in San Antonio.
"How do you know you're not being paid equally if you can't get information about what your work colleagues are being paid for doing the same job?" she asked.
As for why the wage gap persists, Clinton said, "Some of it, let's be honest, is just good old-fashioned discrimination. A lot of women in the workforce are just taken advantage of by their employers."
Clinton, who could become the first female president of the United States, has vowed to push for gains for women across the board. She told her Hispanic Chamber of Commerce audience that she wants to help small-business owners, especially minorities and women.
To reduce the wage gap, she called for changes in federal law and incentives for states and localities to toughen their policies. This is already happening in California, where Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a law last week that would, among other measures, protect employees from retaliation for asking about or sharing information on pay.
Clinton said a man recently told her that he was supporting her because of her equal pay proposals. He pointed to his own family history: At age 17, he'd obtained a job as a cashier in the same store where his mother had been a cashier for four years. When he received his first paycheck, they discovered he was being paid $1 more per hour.
"That is unfortunately too common a story still today, and too many women who are either helping to support their families or the sole supporter of their families are too afraid to ask questions and raise this issue," Clinton said.
Everyone should back equal pay, she said.
"Too many people view it as a women's issue as opposed to what it truly is -- it's an economic growth issue," Clinton said. "And it will be great for the American economy when we finally close that gap."