Nearly fifty years after it passed the Federal Equal Pay Actof 1963, which required equal pay for men and women doing equal jobs in the workplace,
Congress is looking into additional legislation to further close what many believe is a pay gap between men and women. The Act would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938,
which is the current law with regard to overtime pay, minimum wage, as well as equal pay.
A study, released recently by the American Association of University Women examined young people one year after college, who did not have families or children. The study determined that “occupation,
hours worked and economic sector help us understand the pay gap, but these differences do not fully explain it.” The study concluded that sex-based discrimination influences salary, and the proper way to address the unequal pay is through better pay policies.
The study indicated that a man and a woman, who had the same college major, career choice and hours worked, showed that the man would earn 7 percent more on average, even after figuring in measurable causes of pay difference.
The United States Senate is currently considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is intended to address the gender pay-equity gap cited by various studies. The legislation is being co-sponsored by Senator Tom Udall, of
New Mexico, and Senator Barbara Mikulski, of Maryland. The House of Representatives is also considering a version of the bill.
The Paycheck Fairness Act, which has previously been rejected twice by Congress, seeks to increase enforcement of existing equal-pay laws, in addition to creating a grant program for negotiation skills training for
girls and women, and establish programs to research and address causes of pay disparities. The legislation also intends to provide more effective remedies to any victims of sex-based wage discrimination.
The Paycheck Fairness Act seeks to fix many of the loopholes found in the Equal Pay Act. First, the Paycheck Fairness Act would prevent employers from suing and generally punishing employees for sharing salary information.
When employees know one another’s salaries, they will be able to know whether they are being paid less, and could then investigate whether the pay disparity is due to discrimination.
Second, the Paycheck Fairness Act would tighten affirmative defenses so that an employer can only excuse a pay difference between men and women where the employer can prove that the difference is caused by something other than sex,
is truly related to job performance and consistent with business necessity. Currently, under the Equal Pay Act, an employer who is found to be paying female employees less than male employees for equal work can defend themselves by saying
that the decision was based on a factor other than sex and then provide broad excuses. TheEqual Pay Act provides that any comparison of wages must be made between employees working at the
same “establishment.” Currently, most courts interpret that requirement as meaning that wages paid to employees in different facilities or offices of the same employer cannot compare their salaries even if the employees are earning different salaries.
The Paycheck Fairness Act clarifies that comparisons may be made between employees in offices in the same county or similar political subdivision as well as between broader groups of offices in some common circumstances.
Of course, it is important to remember that the Paycheck Fairness Act is merely proposed legislation at the moment. However, employees can contact their Senator and Representative to let them know that they support equal pay.http://prestonbrar.com/congress-considering-new-equal-pay-act/