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house Bill H.R. 1619

Mind the Wage Gap: Strengthening the Equal Pay Act

Argument in favor

It's the 21st century — why in the world are women still being treated unequally to men, even when they perform the same job? The federal government needs to ensure that pay discrimination becomes a thing of the past by cracking down on those who maintain it.

···
03/21/2016
"Despite major advances in civil and political rights, our country still has a long way to go in addressing the issue of gender inequality. Many of the achievements that have been made for women’s rights in the 20th century have been under attack by the Republican party — denying women control over their own bodies, preventing access to vital medical and social services, and blocking equal pay for equal work." [berniesanders.com]
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BarackObama's Opinion
···
03/21/2016
"Equal pay is a family issue. Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and are a growing number of breadwinners in their families. More women are also working in positions and fields that have been traditionally occupied by men. When women are not paid fairly, not only do they suffer, but so do their families." [whitehouse.gov]
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David's Opinion
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03/19/2016
There is no justification for failing to pay equal pay for equal work. And making it more expensive to discriminate than comply is a good step in the right direction.
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Argument opposed

There are plenty of reasons that one employee might make more money than another — including education, experience, and training. Wage disparities are often the result of differences in people’s abilities, not gender discrimination.

BTSundra's Opinion
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03/18/2016
This is literally a waste of time. No need to strengthen a law that does nothing. The pay gap is nothing but a myth.
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CTConservative's Opinion
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03/19/2016
If a woman is being paid unequally due to gender alone, then yeah, that needs to be addressed. This is difficult to determine, however. Not all workers with the same job title should be paid equally. Yes, the work is the "same", but the quality of work being done, the dedication and reliability of the worker, how/if they go above and beyond their prescribed responsibilities, etc. all need to be taken into consideration when determining pay. Let's also not forget time in the role and time with the company. There is certainly a gender gap in pay, but I don't think it's as big an issue today as it once was. And determining if the disparity is based on gender alone is tough to determine. This also needs to be approached carefully. For example: I am a supervisor, and thus privy to employee performance and pay. I recently saw a very poor performing African American female employee get a massive raise for seemingly no reason at all (a decision that came down from HR as a directive, I wasn't consulted in this at all), when a much higher performing white male got a much smaller increase at review time. Both employees are equally engaged by myself and the business and receive equal coaching and opportunity to be successful. The former simply chose to shirk her job and do the bare minimum to avoid termination, yet was still provided with a huge increase, likely due to her ethnicity and gender, despite her deplorable attitude and performance. These kinds of laws can lead to reverse discrimination if not very carefully thought out and implemented.
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Libertarianus's Opinion
···
03/19/2016
Forcing companies to give everyone the same amount of pay, regardless of experience, education, tenure, seniority, or any of the MULTIPLE factors that play part in deciding pay is one more step toward a government ownership of the private sector.
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What is House Bill H.R. 1619?

This bill would revise existing enforcement mechanisms to prevent wage discrimination based on gender. Exceptions in laws that prohibit wage differences between men and women would be limited to bona fide factors — like education, training, or experience.

Defenses based on bona fide factors can only apply if the employer demonstrates that the factor in question:

  • Is not based upon a gender-based differential for compensation;

  • Is job-related with respect to the position in question;

  • Is consistent with the needs of the business;

  • Accounts for the difference in compensation.

This defense would be inapplicable when the employee can demonstrate that an alternative employment practice exists that serves the same business purpose without leading to a pay difference and their employer refused to adopt that practice.

The prohibition against employer retaliation for complaints by employees would be revised to bar retaliation for inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of an employee in response to:

  • A complaint or accusation of gender discrimination;

  • An investigation, proceeding, hearing or other action;

  • An investigation conducted by the employer.

It would be illegal to require employees to sign a contract or waiver preventing them from disclosing information about their wages. Employers who violate gender discrimination rules  would be liable for a civil action for compensatory or punitive damages — although the federal government would be exempt from paying the punitive fines.

The Dept. of Labor would be authorized to seek additional compensatory or punitive damages in a gender discrimination action. All such actions could be pursued as class action suits without the written consent of individual plaintiffs. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Compliance Programs would have to train EEOC employees and affected individuals and entities involving wage discrimination.

EEOC would issue regulations related to collecting compensation data from employers to analyze data regarding the gender, race and national origin of employees for use in the enforcement of federal laws prohibiting pay discrimination.

Impact

Women in the workforce, anyone who suspects they have been subjected to pay discrimination based on their gender, businesses that are practice or have been accused of pay discrimination, and relevant federal agencies — especially the EEOC and Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1619

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced this legislation to help close the wage gap between women and men who work the same jobs:

"Equal pay is not just a problem for women, but for families, who are trying to pay their bills, trying to get ahead, trying to achieve the American dream, and are getting a smaller paycheck than they have earned for their hard work. The Paycheck Fairness Act will help the Equal Pay Act fulfill its intended objective, offer real protections to ensure equal pay for equal work, and see that women are paid the same as the other half of our nation's workforce for the same job."

This bill is cosponsored by 193 lawmakers in the House, including 192 Democrats and one Republican in the House.


Of Note
: In 2009, the Department of Labor requested the publication of a
report detailing the causes of the wage disparity between men and women:

“This study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices made by both male and female workers.”

Claims that women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men have been enthusiastically embraced by some and brushed aside as a statistical myth by others in pursuit of their respective policy goals. A deeper examination of the issue done by the American Association of University Women put the figure closer to 91 cents for every dollar men earn. Another analysis in Slate highlighted observations that such figures are an oversimplification of a complex issue, which discount personal choices made by male and female workers.

The Obama administration has emphasized that women be paid equally, but 2014 statistics showed that women were earning about 87 percent of what their male counterparts were in the White House. Things were no different in 2009, and the 13 percent wage gap between men and women in the Obama administration has persisted.

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user ironypoisoning)

AKA

Paycheck Fairness Act

Official Title

To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
      Higher Education and Workforce Investment
      Workforce Protections
    IntroducedMarch 25th, 2015
    "Despite major advances in civil and political rights, our country still has a long way to go in addressing the issue of gender inequality. Many of the achievements that have been made for women’s rights in the 20th century have been under attack by the Republican party — denying women control over their own bodies, preventing access to vital medical and social services, and blocking equal pay for equal work." [berniesanders.com]
    Like (552)
    Follow
    Share
    This is literally a waste of time. No need to strengthen a law that does nothing. The pay gap is nothing but a myth.
    Like (92)
    Follow
    Share
    "Equal pay is a family issue. Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and are a growing number of breadwinners in their families. More women are also working in positions and fields that have been traditionally occupied by men. When women are not paid fairly, not only do they suffer, but so do their families." [whitehouse.gov]
    Like (351)
    Follow
    Share
    If a woman is being paid unequally due to gender alone, then yeah, that needs to be addressed. This is difficult to determine, however. Not all workers with the same job title should be paid equally. Yes, the work is the "same", but the quality of work being done, the dedication and reliability of the worker, how/if they go above and beyond their prescribed responsibilities, etc. all need to be taken into consideration when determining pay. Let's also not forget time in the role and time with the company. There is certainly a gender gap in pay, but I don't think it's as big an issue today as it once was. And determining if the disparity is based on gender alone is tough to determine. This also needs to be approached carefully. For example: I am a supervisor, and thus privy to employee performance and pay. I recently saw a very poor performing African American female employee get a massive raise for seemingly no reason at all (a decision that came down from HR as a directive, I wasn't consulted in this at all), when a much higher performing white male got a much smaller increase at review time. Both employees are equally engaged by myself and the business and receive equal coaching and opportunity to be successful. The former simply chose to shirk her job and do the bare minimum to avoid termination, yet was still provided with a huge increase, likely due to her ethnicity and gender, despite her deplorable attitude and performance. These kinds of laws can lead to reverse discrimination if not very carefully thought out and implemented.
    Like (88)
    Follow
    Share
    There is no justification for failing to pay equal pay for equal work. And making it more expensive to discriminate than comply is a good step in the right direction.
    Like (52)
    Follow
    Share
    Forcing companies to give everyone the same amount of pay, regardless of experience, education, tenure, seniority, or any of the MULTIPLE factors that play part in deciding pay is one more step toward a government ownership of the private sector.
    Like (31)
    Follow
    Share
    I noticed that many Countable members think that if a man and a woman have the same experience and the same education, then they should get paid the same. I disagree. What if one of them has more drive and shows more initiative? What if one of them has to take time off from work more often because of personal or family issues? What if one is a better "team player"? What if one just happens to be a better problem solver? Companies are in business to make MONEY; they are more inclined to reward the more capable and more motivated employees with pay raises and/or promotions. They should not be expected to pay the same to less capable or less motivated employees, simply because of their gender! If women want equal pay, they'd better be able and willing to EARN it!
    Like (25)
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    The private sector should have an obligation to equal pay for equal work and experience. Women who receive an education shouldn't go into such an institution knowing when they leave, that the job they get they may be paid less than that of their equal male co-workers. Equal pay for women affects not just women, but families, so why not give families and children a better head start in life by paying their mother equally
    Like (22)
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    Silly Government Democrats, another feel good jester to buck up simpatico votes for a weak candidate. You can bet women of high quality will get that equal pay. But equal pay to every woman is a Social-justice/Socialism idea. Same idea as everyone deserves a pot-to-pee-in. So equal pay women gets the pot but ruling Socialist gets the golden throne.
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    To those who are opposed to this, perhaps actually reading about this bill might help in forming an opinion about it. The bill aims to enhance documentation standards, a move that simply requires businesses to practice the age-old art of CYA.
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    It seems people keep saying when opposing this bill that yes equal pay for equal work is right, but then they go into a diatribe on how women aren't performing to the standards of a man. Equal pay for equal work means just that, plain and simple. If the work is the same (meaning output, effort, experience, education, etc.) then we women should be getting paid the same. It is not about a job title, but the work itself given to a company by both genders. I am absolutely for closing this gap and getting the pay we women do work so hard to receive.
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    The bill has provisions for "bona fide" reasons for pay difference. We need to watch out for and prevent gendered discrimination.
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    I am a woman and against this. People are paid for their experience. If women are paid less in the same position it is because they chose to take off time to raise their children. Let the free market be free
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    Equality based on race and gender should be common sense by now.
    Like (8)
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    There is still unfortunately a lot of disproportionality between how much a man makes and how much a woman makes, even if they have the same position, experience, education, etc. The market is not fixing this on its own and it is time for the government to take action.
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    Stop trying to make everyone equal. We are not. We are individuals with different talents, gifts, strengths, weaknesses, proclivities, and as such, we excel at different things. Therefore, our compensation will be appropriate to our own performance based upon these differences.
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    No
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    It's time we do the right thing. Nonsense some still make less.
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    The gender pay gap is definitely a problem, but the racial pay gap is even more extreme. When they say that women make 74¢ for every dollar a man makes, they're talking about white women. It's less for black women and even less for hispanic women. We need to address ALL pay gaps, not just one.
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    It's simply the right thing to do.
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