Lawmakers Reintroduce Paycheck Fairness Act
March 27, 2015 - Posted by Julie Faust
On March 25, lawmakers in both houses of Congress reintroduced legislation that would help narrow the gender pay gap. The Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D. Md., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D. Conn., would help ensure that women workers are not shortchanged, and promote fair and stable family incomes.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by closing loopholes in the law that have hindered its effectiveness in ending pay discrimination, and would eliminate certain unfair defenses for pay discrimination that are currently available to employers, prohibit retaliation against employees who discuss their salaries, and improve wage data collection. The bill would also make it clear that, when determining whether wage discrimination exists, individuals may compare themselves to similarly situated employees, even if those employees do not work in the same physical location.
“Equal pay is not just a problem for women, but for families, who are trying to pay their bills, trying to get ahead, trying to achieve the American Dream, and are getting a smaller paycheck than they have earned for their hard work,” DeLauro said. Despite the bill’s importance for millions of women and families, Senate Republicans blocked consideration of the bill twice just last year.
The bill’s introduction comes in the weeks before Equal Pay Day on April 14, which is the day that the average American woman catches up in earnings to what the average man brought in during the previous calendar year. That's because, on average, women make 78 cents for every dollar that men make – a disparity that is even worse for African-American women who are paid only 64 cents and Latinas who are paid only 54 cents for every dollar paid to White, non-Hispanic men.
Last April, President Obama signed two executive orders on equal pay, one that banned retaliation against employees of federal contractors for discussing their wages, and one that instructed the Department of Labor to create new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit data on employee compensation. While these actions will help federal contractor employees, congressional action is needed to end gender-based pay discrimination for all workers.