The Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced in March 2007 by Sen. Hilary Clinton and Rep. Rosa DeLauro to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to offer stronger protection for employees against compensation discrimination on the basis of sex. Rep. LeDauro, D-Conn. first introduced this legislation 12 years ago, but now is the time it will become law.
Currently, employers can avoid liability if they prove that the alleged discrimination comparison was a result of any factor other than sex. The Paycheck Fairness Act limits this defense to situations where the factors other than sex are job-related or serve a legitimate business interest.
The act also prohibits employers from retaliating against employee who share salary information, but this is prohibited, anyway by the National Labor Relations Act.
The Paycheck Fairness Act also increases civil penalties against employers who violate it, makes it easier to bring class actions, and authorizes the Secretary of Labor to seek additional compensatory or punitive damages. This authorization is similar to the Working Families Flexibility Act (aka “union of one law”) permitting the Labor Secretary to impose additional penalties for not negotiating with a single employee over the terms and conditions of that employee’s job.
Like the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced to Congress last year. The Act, again like the Fair Pay Act, passed in the House of Representatives but did not pass the Senate. With Democrats padding their seats in Congress, both Acts should sail through Congress this time and reach Obama’s desk soon after he enters the White House, and of course, Obama has embraced both Acts.
According to the AP, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “very excited” about leading off the new Congress with labor rights issues. And “the early foray into labor rights issues is a prelude to what could be the most controversial bill that Congress tackles in the first year of the Obama administration – legislation to take away the right of employers to demand secret-ballot elections by workers before unions could be recognized.”