On January 30th 2019, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Senator Patty Murray led the charge to reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill was first introduced in 2012, but has failed to make headway in Congress over the years. The Paycheck Fairness Act will be designated as H.R. 7 in the 116th Congress and has been designed to strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and help guarantee that women can challenge pay discrimination and hold employers accountable for contributing to unfair wage practices.
According to Congresswoman DeLauro, “The Paycheck Fairness Act is a strong step forward in ensuring that we close the wage gap once and for all.” She added, “This legislation addresses the issue in a comprehensive and sensible manner—and it is long overdue. Our diverse and energetic Congress is poised to act on this legislation, and I look forward to its swift passage in the House of Representatives.”
Also included in H.R. 7 is the Pay Equity for All Act, a bill proposed by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is also the first woman to chair the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Norton’s bill would prohibit employers in the United States from asking job applicants their salary history. California employers are already prohibited from asking applicants’ salary history under A.B. 168 and 12 other states also have similar legislation.
What Employers Need to Know
H.R. 7, if passed, will update the Equal Pay Act in several different ways. One such way is by removing obstacles in the Equal Pay Act that currently restrict a complainant’s participation in class action lawsuits that challenge systemic pay discrimination. This particular detail is especially alarming to employers, and according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this change “could erase an employer’s defense and leave it open to a jury award of unlimited punitive and compensatory damages in large mass actions on the basis of one employee’s complaint, without regard to the size of the employer.”
The House legislation currently has 240 cosponsors and the Senate legislation has 45 cosponsors. Hearings are still being conducted, and the fate of the bill is still up in the air. Stay tuned to the Emplicity blog for more updates on this and other legislative changes that affect Employers in California and across the United States.
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NOTICE: Emplicity provides HR advice and recommendations. Information provided by Emplicity is not intended as a substitute for employment law counsel. At no time will Emplicity have the authority or right to make decisions on behalf of their clients. Emplicity provides HR advice and recommendations. Information provided by Emplicity is not intended as a substitute for employment law counsel. At no time will Emplicity have the authority or right to make decisions on behalf of their clients.