U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Dean of the Senate Women, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) today reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation which will help close the wage gap between women and men working the same jobs, costing women and their families $434,000 over their careers. Today women make just 77 cents for every dollar made by a man for equal work. The Senate legislation currently has 23 cosponsors while the House bill has 130.
President Obama's first bill, signed into law on January 29, 2009, was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which overturned the 180-day statute of limitations for women to contest pay discrimination. It was an important down-payment in ending the pay gap and keeping the courthouse doors open. In his second inaugural address on January 21, 2013, President Obama called for equal pay for equal work once and for all. The Paycheck Fairness Act will close the loopholes that allow pay discrimination to continue in the first place and, with Ledbetter, provide employees the rights they need to challenge and eliminate pay discriminate in the workplace.
"Four years after the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law to keep the courthouse doors open, it's time to finish the job and stop wage discrimination from happening in the first place," said Senator Mikulski, a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee. "Equal pay is not just for our pocketbooks, it's about family checkbooks and getting it right in the law books. The Paycheck Fairness Act ensures that women will no longer be fighting on their own for equal pay for equal work."
"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," said DeLauro, who has introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act for each of the past eight congresses. "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."
The Paycheck Fairness Act builds upon the landmark Equal Pay Act signed into law in 1963 by closing loopholes that have kept it from achieving its goal of equal pay. The bill would require employers to show pay disparity is truly related to job-performance -- not gender.
It prohibits employer retaliation for sharing salary information with coworkers. Under current law employers can sue and punish employees for sharing such information. In addition, it strengthens remedies for pay discrimination by increasing compensation women can seek, allowing them to not only seek back pay, but also punitive damages for pay discrimination.
Finally the bill empowers women in the workplace through a grant program to strengthen salary negotiation and other workplace skills and requires the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training efforts to eliminate pay disparities.