U.S. Senate Once Again Rejects Paycheck Protection Act

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By Ilyse Wolens Schuman

As expected, U.S. Senate supporters of the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199) failed to muster the 60 votes needed to advance the bill to a floor vote.

This bill would have, among other things:

  • Expanded damages available under the Equal Pay Act (EPA) to include potentially unlimited compensatory and punitive awards for wage discrimination;
  • Weakened an employer’s ability to raise the “factor other than sex” affirmative defense in a wage discrimination case; eased the requirements for bringing a class action lawsuit under the EPA;
  • Made it unlawful for an employer to prevent employees from discussing or comparing salaries; and,
  • Imposed additional compensation reporting requirements on employers.

Despite vote, the issue isn’t dead

The measure needed an additional six (6) votes to ensure filibuster-proof consideration.

The failure of the Paycheck Fairness Act does not mean the issue is dead. To the contrary, pay equity will be an enduring issue through the November elections.

As discussed in a recent Littler Workplace Policy Update, President Obama recently signed two measures aimed at taking certain provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act and applying them to federal contractors.

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Executive Orders tackle elements of the bill

One Executive Order — Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information – makes it unlawful for contractors to retaliate against employees who disclose their pay information.

The second executive action was a Presidential Memorandum – Advancing Pay Equality Through Compensation Data Collection – directing the U.S. Department of Labor to issue regulations within 120 days that will require federal contractors and subcontractors to submit to the Labor Department summary data on the compensation paid their employees, including data by sex and race.

The Senate’s symbolic consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act will no doubt be used as a talking point by many policymakers as election season heats up.

This was originally published on Littler Mendelson’s Workplace Policy Update blog© 2014 Littler Mendelson. All Rights Reserved. Littler®, Employment & Labor Law Solutions Worldwide® and ASAP® are registered trademarks of Littler Mendelson, P.C.

Ilyse W. Schuman is a shareholder in the Washington, D.C. office of Littler Mendelson. She provides strategic counsel and representation to clients on a broad array of workplace issues and developments in Congress and executive branch federal agencies.

She is a member of the firm's Government Affairs practice and works with employers in multiple industries, including trade associations. She also leads the firm's Legislative and Regulatory practice.

A former top congressional staffer and policy advisor, Ilyse worked on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions from 2001 to 2008, serving as minority staff director and chief counsel. She began her work in the Senate as chief labor counsel for Senator Mike Enzi on the Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training, where she led legislative and oversight activities.

After leaving the Senate, Schuman joined a leading trade association of electro-industry manufacturers as vice president, where she served as managing director of the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance, the collective voice of medical imaging equipment manufacturers. Additionally, she served as in-house counsel at a manufacturer and market and technology leader, where she advised the company on human resource matters. In law school, she was a member of the Journal of Law and Policy in International Business.

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