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