Saturday, August 2, 2008

House Passes Paycheck Fairness Act

Whoa, whoa, whoa - yesterday we had cause for celebration, and we missed it! As it turns out:
On July 31, the House passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, H.R. 1338.

...The Paycheck Fairness Act:
  • Requires that employers seeking to justify unequal pay bear the burden of proving that its actions are job-related and consistent with a business necessity.
  • Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers.
  • Puts gender-based discrimination sanctions on equal footing with other forms of wage discrimination – such as discrimination based on race, disability or age – by allowing women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages.
  • Requires the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training efforts to work with employers in order to eliminate pay disparities.
  • Requires the Department of Labor to continue to collect and disseminate wage information based on gender.
  • Creates a new grant program to help strengthen the negotiation skills of girls and women.
Rep. Barbara Lee explains how this legislation is particularly meaningful for women of color:
It's absolutely inexcusable that women, and especially minority women earn a fraction of what men earn from the same job. African-American women earn just 63 cents on the dollar and Latinas earn far worse at 57 cents... The wide disparity begins at the start of a woman's work life and grows wider as women age. In the long-term, combined with the decrease in pension income and social security benefits, which is what happens, many women are at risk of falling into poverty as they get older because the disparity began when they first started working. H.R. 1338 takes immediate steps to close the wage gap for all women by amending and strengthening the Equal Pay Act...
Ann from Feministing notes that "Bush is sure to veto." Still, since I missed celebrating this step toward equal pay yesterday, it gives me a great excuse to party twice as hard today!

UPDATE: Hat tip to Noticing the Gap, which links to Bush's threatened veto.

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