Paycheck Fairness Act

  • June 5, 2012

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Continuing their streak of obstructionism or satisfying a desire to simply do nothing, Senate Republicans today blocked a measure to fight wage discrimination against women.

    The Paycheck Fairness Act, supported by civil liberties groups, Democratic senators and President Obama, would have provided means for women to expose and challenge wage discrimination.

    Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said, “Closing the wage gap is critical to families’ economic security. Nearly 15 million households in this country are headed by women, and nearly 30 percent of those households are living in poverty. Women are the primary or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of families. Yet, due to the wage gap, they are losing more than $10,000 in income every year.”

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (pictured) in defending his party’s obstruction of the legislation claimed he was concerned about an uptick in litigation. “We don’t think America suffers from a lack of litigation,” he said, The Associated Press reported. “We got a lot of problems. Not enough lawsuits is not one of them.”

    The 52 – 47 vote was short of the 60 votes needed to end the Republican filibuster. Sen. Patrick Leahy, a co-sponsor of the measure, said his Party “would continue to build the case for these remedies, which will make a pocketbook difference to so many women in the American workforce, and to their families.”

  • September 17, 2010
    Guest Post

    By Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment, National Women's Law Center
    Yesterday the Census released its annual data on earnings-and despite some earlier media predictions to the contrary, there was once again no improvement in the wage gap. On average, a woman who works year-round in a full-time job makes 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and the gap is even wider for women of color. And as families are increasingly dependent on women's earnings, these discounted salaries cannot go ignored.

    The Senate has a short window to take steps to address the wage gap by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to ensure that it will provide effective protection against sex-based pay discrimination. It prohibits retaliation against workers who share their salaries and allows women to receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are currently available to those who are subjected to discrimination based on race or national origin. It also provides for much-needed training and technical assistance as well as data collection and research.

  • January 29, 2010
    Guest Post

    By Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment, and Kavitha Sivashanker, Fellow, National Women's Law Center

    A year ago today, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (pictured left). The law overturned the disastrous Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
    The Act explicitly provides that "an unlawful employment practice occurs ... when a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted, when an individual becomes subject to a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, or when an individual is affected by application of a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid" as a result of such a practice.

    In the past year, courts around the country have implemented the Act as Congress intended for straightforward pay discrimination cases. In cases involving pay discrimination based on sex, race, disability, and age, these courts have recognized that the statute of limitations is renewed with each paycheck marred by discrimination.

    But not every plaintiff has had their pay discrimination case restored by the Act, and there are a few thorny implementation issues that have emerged which courts will continue to flesh out. So where do we currently stand with the Ledbetter Act? One year later, our assessment is that while the Ledbetter Act was a true, hard-won victory for women and families, it is only the first step towards addressing pay disparities for women.