Senate Blocks Paycheck Fairness Act…again

Last week the Paycheck Fairness Act was voted on by Congress. For the sixth time, it did not pass. Was it previously voted on the other 5 times possibly in the Colonial period? No. It was voted on & failed to pass based on the votes of modern day Congressional representatives. Every single member of the GOP, including all female members, voted no. Its bad enough that supposedly rational men entrusted to pass laws dont see a need for fair pay…but what of the women? I have to say, I find that even more appalling. Women should stand up for women. ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE WOMEN IN POWER. But that’s just my opinion.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is proposed legislation that would add procedural protections to the Equal Pay Act of 1963  and the Fair Labor Standards Act as part of an effort to address the male-female income disparity in the United States.  A Census Bureau report published in 2008 stated that women’s median annual earnings were 77.5% of men’s earnings though the cause of the gap is widely disputed (….)  On April 9, 2014, in another (almost) straight-party-line vote, the Paycheck Fairness Act, was again blocked by a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Democratic Majority leader at the last minute changed his vote from a “yes” to a “no” in a procedural move in order to bring the PFA up for debate again (Good job Senator Reid).

 

This is a summary of the Act, it sounds fairly straightforward:

“Paycheck Fairness Act – Amends the portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) known as the Equal Pay Act to revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages.

Revises the exception to the prohibition for a wage rate differential based on any other factor other than sex. Limits such factors to bona fide factors, such as education, training, or experience.

States that the bona fide factor defense shall apply only if the employer demonstrates that such factor: (1) is not based upon or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation, (2) is job-related with respect to the position in question, and (3) is consistent with business necessity. Makes such defense inapplicable where the employee demonstrates that: (1) an alternative employment practice exists that would serve the same business purpose without producing such differential, and (2) the employer has refused to adopt such alternative practice.

Revises the prohibition against employer retaliation for employee complaints. Prohibits retaliation for inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of the employee or another employee in response to a complaint or charge, or in furtherance of a sex discrimination investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, or an investigation conducted by the employer.

Makes employers who violate sex discrimination prohibitions liable in a civil action for either compensatory or (except for the federal government) punitive damages.

States that any action brought to enforce the prohibition against sex discrimination may be maintained as a class action in which individuals may be joined as party plaintiffs without their written consent.

Authorizes the Secretary of Labor (Secretary) to seek additional compensatory or punitive damages in a sex discrimination action.

Requires the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to train EEOC employees and affected individuals and entities on matters involving wage discrimination.

Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to eligible entities for negotiation skills training programs for girls and women. Directs the Secretary and the Secretary of Education to issue regulations or policy guidance to integrate such training into certain programs under their Departments.

Directs the Secretary to conduct studies and provide information to employers, labor organizations, and the general public regarding the means available to eliminate pay disparities between men and women.

Establishes the Secretary of Labor’s National Award for Pay Equity in the Workplace for an employer who has made a substantial effort to eliminate pay disparities between men and women.

Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to require the EEOC to collect from employers pay information data regarding the sex, race, and national origin of employees for use in the enforcement of federal laws prohibiting pay discrimination.

Directs: (1) the Commissioner of Labor Statistics to continue to collect data on woman workers in the Current Employment Statistics survey, (2) the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to use specified types of methods in investigating compensation discrimination and in enforcing pay equity, and (3) the Secretary to make accurate information on compensation discrimination readily available to the public.

Directs the Secretary and the Commissioner [sic] of the EEOC jointly to develop technical assistance material to assist small businesses to comply with the requirements of this Act.”

 

These things all sound simple enough right? Good and rational for modern day times? Yes? I think so. Unfortunately the GOP. Republicans dismiss the bill as an election year ploy that would “invite frivolous lawsuits.” (Probably by other Republicans, or their corporate donors). The bill’s failure came a day after Mr Obama issued two executive orders aimed at reducing gender disparities in government workforce pay. (Bravo, Mr. President). Honestly, I think the fact that “fair pay” is even an issue in the year 2014 unbelievable. It should not be difficult to pay PEOPLE to go a JOB regardless of gender. It just shouldn’t.

In the 20’s, most women stayed home. That was the way things were. Men got jobs that paid a “family wage” whereas women often could find little jobs working for “pin money.” Well, folks we are long past “family wages” and “pin money.” We must bring the needs of society up to the times. Women are often paid less, earn less..and in cases where there is only one person raising children (single parent household) , that person is typically a woman. Women shouldn’t just earn fair pay because it’s the right thing to do or because we need to get with the times. Its a matter of survival too. Women are the majority of those in poverty. Women are the majority of public assistance recipients. There are a hundred different things at play that connect to fair pay. It is sad and incredibly unfortunate that the GOP is so short sighted as to not see how fair pay for all will has greater affect on all.

 

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