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 wouldn't apply 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 civil 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 train EEOC employees, affected individuals and entities about 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.