Congress to Introduce the Paycheck Fairness Act
April 12, 2011 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
The Senate and the House of Representatives will introduce the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) today in honor of Equal Pay Day, a day when people around the country call attention to disparities in salary between men and women.
The PFA updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially the same work.
In an April 8 letter of support to Congress, The Leadership Conference says that while the EPA has been effective at helping to narrow the gap in pay between women and men who perform the same work, there are areas where the EPA has fallen short and allowed unfair and unequal pay practices to persist. To address these disparities, The Paycheck Fairness Act would:
- Ensure that women can obtain the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination as those available to victims of race-based and national origin discrimination;
- Eliminate unfair defenses to pay discrimination currently available to employers;
- Prohibit employer retaliation against employees who disclose or discuss their salaries;
- Improve wage data collection; and
- Make clear that individuals may compare themselves to similarly situated employees to determine whether wage discrimination exists, even if those employees do not work in the same physical location.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time still earn, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar men earn. In 2008, women were 35 percent more likely to live in poverty than men. The statistics are even worse for women of color.
In addition, women are largely being left out of the current slow economic recovery. According to the National Women’s Law Center, only 13.8 percent of the jobs added to the economy between January 2010 and March 2011 went to women.
"In today’s economic climate, women’s wages are critical components of working families' struggle to make ends meet. Women in particular are often forced to raise their families on incomes lower than male colleagues performing the same jobs…The Paycheck Fairness Act would help ensure that women workers are not shortchanged, thus promoting stable family incomes and preventing the kinds of home foreclosures and credit defaults that precipitated the recent recession," write Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, and Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference, in the letter.