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Stabenow, Colleagues Pass Legislation to Combat Pay Discrimination

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced Senate passage of the Fair Pay Act, which combats pay discrimination by extending the deadline for victims to take action. Under current law, those affected by workplace pay discrimination have only 180 days from the date of the first violation to file suit. The extension provided by the Fair Pay Act would assist employees who become aware of pay discrepancies much later. Last year, the Senate fell just four votes short of bringing the legislation to the floor for a vote.

"Last November, Americans cried out for change and a new era in Washington — an era of bipartisanship and equality," said Stabenow. "The American people deserve nothing less from their elected officials, and I am proud to have joined with my Senate colleagues to pass critical legislation that seeks to end pay discrimination and inequality in the workplace."

The Fair Pay Act corrects a Supreme Court decision making it more difficult for victims of pay discrimination to take legal action. In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter vs. Goodyear stated that discrimination can only be filed within 180 days following the last discriminatory decision raise instead of the last discriminatory paycheck. This sets a nearly impossible standard in the workplace, where employees most likely do not know how much their fellow colleagues earn. This bill sought to correct this decision, restoring the law to its previous status, allowing victims of such discrimination 180 days from the date of the last paycheck reflecting discrimination.

Other Provisions in the Fair Pay Act:

• Amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, race or national origin.

• Requires employers to provide equal pay for jobs that are equivalent in effort, responsibility and working conditions. The Fair Pay Act would apply to each company individually and would prohibit companies from reducing other employees' wages to achieve pay equality.

• Requires public disclosure of employer job categories and their pay scales, without requiring specific information on individual employees.

• Allows payment of different wages under a seniority system, merit system, or system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.

• Allows employees who allege discrimination in wage-setting based on sex, race or national origin to either file a complaint with the EEOC or go to court

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