Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199; 113th Congress)
|Full title||A bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.|
|Introduced in||113th United States Congress|
|Introduced on||April 1, 2014|
|Sponsored by||Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)|
The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199) is a bill that "punishes employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information, puts the justification burden on employers as to why someone is paid less and allows workers to sue for punitive damages of wage discrimination." Another provision of the bill would start programs train women in ways to better negotiate their wages.
Similar legislation was introduced into several previous Congresses, but failed to become law. The House of Representatives approved the bill in January 2009. The United States Senate failed to move the bill forward in November 2010. President Barack Obama said in March 2011 that he will continue to fight for the goals in the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill was reintroduced in both houses of Congress in April 2011.
Provisions of the bill
The Paycheck Fairness Act would amend the portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) known as the Equal Pay Act to revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages.
The bill would revise the exception to the prohibition for a wage rate differential based on any other factor other than sex. It would limit such factors to bona fide factors, such as education, training, or experience.
The bill would state that the bona fide factor defense shall apply only if the employer demonstrates that such factor: (1) is not based upon or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation, (2) is job-related with respect to the position in question, and (3) is consistent with business necessity. Makes such defense inapplicable where the employee demonstrates that: (1) an alternative employment practice exists that would serve the same business purpose without producing such differential, and (2) the employer has refused to adopt such alternative practice.
The bill would revise the prohibition against employer retaliation for employee complaints. Prohibits retaliation for inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of the employee or another employee in response to a complaint or charge, or in furtherance of a sex discrimination investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, or an investigation conducted by the employer.
The bill would make employers who violate sex discrimination prohibitions liable in a civil action for either compensatory or (except for the federal government) punitive damages.
The bill would state that any action brought to enforce the prohibition against sex discrimination may be maintained as a class action in which individuals may be joined as party plaintiffs without their written consent.
The bill would require the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to train EEOC employees and affected individuals and entities on matters involving wage discrimination.
The bill would authorize the Secretary to make grants to eligible entities for negotiation skills training programs for girls and women. Directs the Secretary and the United States Secretary of Education to issue regulations or policy guidance to integrate such training into certain programs under their Departments.
The bill would direct the Secretary to conduct studies and provide information to employers, labor organizations, and the general public regarding the means available to eliminate pay disparities between men and women.
The bill would establish the Secretary of Labor's National Award for Pay Equity in the Workplace for an employer who has made a substantial effort to eliminate pay disparities between men and women.
The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to require the EEOC to collect from employers pay information data regarding the sex, race, and national origin of employees for use in the enforcement of federal laws prohibiting pay discrimination.
The bill would direct: (1) the Commissioner of Labor Statistics to continue to collect data on woman workers in the Current Employment Statistics survey, (2) the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to use specified types of methods in investigating compensation discrimination and in enforcing pay equity, and (3) the Secretary to make accurate information on compensation discrimination readily available to the public.
The bill would direct the Secretary and the Commissioner [sic] of the EEOC jointly to develop technical assistance material to assist small businesses to comply with the requirements of this Act.
The Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced into the United States Senate on April 1, 2014 by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). The bill was not referred to any committees. On April 9, 2014, a vote to end the debate on the bill failed in a 53-44 vote, when 60 votes were needed. All of the Republicans voted against ending the debate.
Debate and discussion
Democrats said they intended to use the votes on this bill and the issue of equal pay as political issues in the 2014 midterm elections. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) told reporters that "pay equity, that's women, that's 53 percent of the vote." In 2012, Democrats did better than Republicans among women voters.
Senator Mikulski said that "it brings tears to my eyes to know women are working so hard and being paid less" and that "it makes me emotional when I hear that... I get angry, I get outraged and I get volcanic."
Republicans gave several different reasons for voting against ending debate. One reason for their opposition, given by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), was that Majority Leader Harry Reid had refused to allow votes on any of the amendments that Republicans had suggested for the bill. Republicans also objected because it would strongly benefit trial lawyers and would "remove caps on punitive damages against businesses found guilty of discrimination." Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the legislation would "line the pockets of trial lawyers" not help women.
- Ramsey Cox; Alexander Bolton (9 April 2014). "Senate GOP blocks paycheck bill". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
- Staff. "Rights groups urge Paycheck Fairness Act passing", The Louisiana Weekly, September 20, 2010. Accessed September 22, 2010.
- Staff."Senate kills Paycheck Fairness Act" "United Press International. November 17, 2010. Accessed February 8, 2010.
- Associated Press."Obama keeps focus on fight for women's equality",Associated Press. March 12, 2011. Accessed March 28, 2011.
- Dodge, Garen E. and Jane M. McFetridge. "Paycheck Fairness Act Reintroduced in Congress" "Martindale.com" April 27, 2011. Accessed May 31, 2011.
- "S. 2199 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
- "S. 2199 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
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- Library of Congress - Thomas S. 2199
- beta.congress.gov S. 2199
- GovTrack.us S. 2199
- OpenCongress.org S. 2199
- WashingtonWatch.com S. 2199