Saturday, January 31, 2009

Major gender-based pay-equity legislation remains in Committee

Women are still waiting for the Paycheck Fairness Act to become a law. But, since passing by a party line vote of 256-163 in the House on January 9, it remains in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

Unlike the recently passed Ledbetter bill which extends the statute of limitations for everyone in a protected class with a proven claim of pay discrimination, the Paycheck Fairness Act’s aim is to provide women with more effective tools to combat pay inequities based on gender. But, given its overwhelmingly partisan vote in the House, it appears the wait will be a little longer than expected and I don't think the Republicans are the only ones to blame - after all we all know who has the majority. If they wanted it to pass, Republicans alone could not stop it.

According to a January 27 CNBC transcript of a media event held in the Capitol following passage of the Ledbetter bill, Speaker Pelosi’s comments seem to hint it may well be some time before the bill passes.

When asked what the next workers’ rights bill she would attempt to take up, she replied:
” Well, we have paycheck fairness, sponsored by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, which Mr. Miller passed out of his committee, and with the leadership of Mr. Hoyer, on the floor passed and was sent over to the Senate. So we hope that eventually that will become law someday, too, because that's the obvious next step.”
If the bill becomes a law, women would be able to sue for unlimited punitive and compensatory damages to include expert fees either individually or as a class. Companies would have a greater duty to prove that job performance alone was the reason for any pay inequities that do exist. Additionally, the bill would usher in a never-before-seen era of wage transparency in our culture by preventing companies from retaliating against employees who share salary information.

The opponents of the bill feel it would strip employers of the right to manage their businesses and lead to more frivolous class action lawsuits. But the sponsors believe its passage is imperative in order to:
  • provide a solution to problems in the economy created by unfair pay disparities
  • substantially reduce the number of working women earning unfairly low wages thereby reducing the dependence on public assistance
  • promote stable families by enabling all family members to earn a fair rate of pay
  • remedy the effects of past discrimination on the basis of sex and ensuring that in the future workers are afforded equal protection on the basis of sex
  • ensure equal protection pursuant to Congress' power to enforce the 5th and 14th amendments
If implemented as written (guess I should say "if implemented at all), it could either seriously close the gender wage gap, or clog the judicial system to such an extent that no substantive progress is realized. We'd just have to wait and see.

4 comments:

ea said...

I thought the bill was already signed into law. News radio station STILL off the air from the ice storm. Don't really know what is going on, but I read on another blog that birth-control was removed from the stimulus package. What is that about?

Deb said...

ea..Nope. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a red herring for women's interests. They put that "Fair Pay Act" part in the name to make us think that is what passed. All Ledbetter does is restart the 180-day statute of limitations for anyone filing a discrimination lawsuit after each paycheck received (because the Supremes originally ruled that after 19 years, her lawsuit was way past the 180-day deadline to file). That's it!

Like I said, the real meat for women's interests is in the real Paycheck Fairness Act that is still sitting in COmmitte and will probably never pass without being gutted into uselessness. Games people play!

Where are you, still in an ice storm??? Man! I thought I was having problems with the couple inches of snow that fell and the ice it left behind!

Yeah, removing contraception was a concession by the Dems to bring the Republicans onboard - and they all still voted against it. Too much spending, not enough tax cuts for them.

I fear we're in an alternate-Bush/Cheney world with Obama & Co at the helm. Now, THEY ARE THE DECIDERS! Shit, we're in for a long, four years!

ea said...

Maybe it is better not to know what the news is :(

I responded to your message at Green Party Central (two responses). Thanks for visiting. Please try to post again. The reply button is lower right corner.

Deb said...

Lately, I agree with you. The more I find and see, the more disgusted I am about the games the government plays with the American people.

I answered you over there. I couldn't find the post! I'll comment on something more current next time.

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