CHN: Republicans Reject Pay Fairness for Women

Before recessing for the November elections, Senate Democrats brought to the floor the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199). Unlike in April when Republicans refused to allow debate on the bill, on September 10th, all Democrats and Independents were joined by 19 Republicans in a 73-25 procedural vote that opened the bill for floor debate. Some, however, openly acknowledged that their vote was part of a strategy to use up floor time to keep other bills they did not want to vote on from being considered. A vote on passage of the legislation is expected to take place Monday evening, but the bill is not expected to pass due to a lack of support from Republicans.
The Paycheck Fairness Act amends the portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) known as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits wage discrimination by gender. It is designed to strengthen the 1963 Equal Pay Act and reinforce the principal of equal pay for equal work. Its provisions include: prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire, discuss, and/or disclose the wage of another employee or disclose their own wage; allowing plaintiffs to recover full compensation and punitive damages for gender-based discrimination like that based on race or ethnicity; and putting the onus on employers to show that a pay differential is caused by something other than gender. Republicans cite as a reason for opposing the legislation that it will be a disincentive for employers to hire women for fear of law suits. Major women’s organizations such as the National Partnership for Women and Families, National Organization for Women, MomsRising, and the National Women’s Law Center strongly favor the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is one element of the Senate Democrats’ 2014 “A Fair Shot for Everyone” agenda. Other legislation on the agenda includes raising the minimum wage to $10.10, and reforming the student loan system.

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