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senate Bill S. 224

Do the Feds Need More Ways to Punish Businesses That Don’t Pay Women Equally?

Argument in favor

It's the 21st century — there's no reason that women shouldn't make the same amount of money as men for doing the same work. The federal government needs to ensure that pay discrimination becomes a thing of the past.

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11/10/2015
"It is wrong that women working full-time only earn 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. We have got to move forward and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act into law." [berniesanders.com]
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DonaldTrump's Opinion
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11/10/2015
“If they do the same job, they should get the same pay.” [thehill.com]
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BarackObama's Opinion
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11/10/2015
"Equal pay is a family issue. Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and are a growing number of breadwinners in their families. More women are also working in positions and fields that have been traditionally occupied by men. When women are not paid fairly, not only do they suffer, but so do their families." [whitehouse.gov/issues/equal-pay]
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Argument opposed

There are plenty of reasons that one worker should make more money than another — including education, experience, and training. Wage disparities are often the result of differences in people’s abilities, not gender discrimination.

AutumnStarlight's Opinion
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08/27/2015
There is nothing that this legislation can do that the Equal Pay Act of 1963 hasn't already accomplished. Thanks to said law, pay discrimination based on sex has already been a federal crime for more than half a century, making the gender pay gap a myth. The 78¢ statistic comes from the Income, Earnings, and Poverty Data from the 2007 ACS released by the Census Bureau. It says that in aggregate, the national median income of women was 78% of that of men. It is actually a gender earnings gap, and it's also a national average, not a universally applicable paradigm. It exists because generally, women don't take the same jobs, work the same hours, or negotiate their salaries as aggressively as men do. If women really were universally paid 23% less than men, then there would be no men in the work force at all. A man would have to be overqualified just to get hired.
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Robert's Opinion
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08/25/2015
This sort of feel-good legislation is idiotic. Jobs should be based on merit alone, not what's between your legs. I'm all for giving women more opportunities to succeed, but in the end the job has to go to the most qualified person.
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Loraki's Opinion
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09/16/2016
Not the federal government's business. Let the states decide this issue.
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What is Senate Bill S. 224?

This bill would revise existing remedies and enforcement mechanisms that seek to prevent wage discrimination based on sex. Exceptions to laws prohibiting wage differentials between men and women would be limited to bona fide factors — including education, training, or experience —  among the employees whose wages differ.


Defenses based on bona fide factors can only apply if the employer demonstrates that the factor in question:

  • Is not based upon or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation;

  • Is job-related with respect to the position in question;

  • Is consistent with the needs of the business;

  • Accounts for the differential in compensation.


This defense would be inapplicable when the employee can demonstrate that an alternative employment practice exists that serves the same business purpose without leading to a pay differential and their employer refused to adopt that practice.

The prohibition against employer retaliation for complaints by employees would be revised to bar retaliation for inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of an employee in response to:

  • A complaint or charge of sex discrimination;

  • An investigation, proceeding, hearing or other action;

  • An investigation conducted by the employer.


It would be illegal to require employees to sign a contract or waiver preventing them from disclosing information about their wages. Employers who violate sex discrimination prohibitions would be liable for a civil action for compensatory or punitive damages — although the federal government would be exempt from paying the punitive fines.


The Dept. of Labor would be authorized to seek additional compensatory or punitive damages in a sex discrimination action, and all such actions could be pursued as class action cases without the written consent of individual plaintiffs. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Compliance Programs would be required to train EEOC employees and affected individuals and entities involving wage discrimination.


EEOC would issue regulations related to collecting compensation data from employers to analyze data regarding the sex, race and national origin of employees for use in the enforcement of federal laws prohibiting pay discrimination.

Impact

Workers who have claimed that they have been subjected to pay discrimination, businesses accused of pay discrimination, and relevant federal agencies — especially the EEOC and Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 224

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) believes that:

“Equal pay is not just for our pocket books, 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.”

Currently, this legislation has 43 cosponsors in the Senate — all but one of whom are Democrats. It also has been endorsed by well over 100 organizations, in addition to Planned Parenthood, which released a statement supporting this bill:
"We cannot move ahead if half the population is left behind. Women — and this country — are ready to move forward. Anyone who argues differently is on the wrong side of history."

A version of this bill that was introduced during the 113th Congress was advanced to the Senate floor for a vote, but failed to reach the 60 vote threshold needed for cloture on a 52-40 margin.


Of Note: In 2009, the Department of Labor requested the publication of a report detailing the causes of the wage disparity between men and women:

“This study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices made by both male and female workers.”

Claims that women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men have been enthusiastically embraced by some and brushed aside as a statistical myth by others in pursuit of their respective policy goals. A deeper examination of the issue done by the American Association of University Women put the figure closer to 91 cents for every dollar men earn. Another analysis in Slate highlighted observations that such figures are an oversimplification of a complex issue, which discount personal choices made by male and female workers.

The Obama administration has emphasized that women be paid equally, but 2014 statistics showed that women were earning about 87 percent of what their male counterparts were in the White House. Things were no different in 2009, and the 13 percent wage gap between men and women in the Obama administration has persisted.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archives)

AKA

Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to ensure the United States promotes women's meaningful inclusion and participation in mediation and negotiation processes undertaken in order to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict and implements the United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
    IntroducedJanuary 21st, 2015
    "It is wrong that women working full-time only earn 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. We have got to move forward and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act into law." [berniesanders.com]
    Like (65)
    Follow
    Share
    There is nothing that this legislation can do that the Equal Pay Act of 1963 hasn't already accomplished. Thanks to said law, pay discrimination based on sex has already been a federal crime for more than half a century, making the gender pay gap a myth. The 78¢ statistic comes from the Income, Earnings, and Poverty Data from the 2007 ACS released by the Census Bureau. It says that in aggregate, the national median income of women was 78% of that of men. It is actually a gender earnings gap, and it's also a national average, not a universally applicable paradigm. It exists because generally, women don't take the same jobs, work the same hours, or negotiate their salaries as aggressively as men do. If women really were universally paid 23% less than men, then there would be no men in the work force at all. A man would have to be overqualified just to get hired.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    “If they do the same job, they should get the same pay.” [thehill.com]
    Like (52)
    Follow
    Share
    "Equal pay is a family issue. Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and are a growing number of breadwinners in their families. More women are also working in positions and fields that have been traditionally occupied by men. When women are not paid fairly, not only do they suffer, but so do their families." [whitehouse.gov/issues/equal-pay]
    Like (28)
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    Share
    "Every single Republican in the US Senate voted against equal pay for equal work for women today. Unreal. #equalpay" [twitter.com/senwarren]
    Like (16)
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    "Equal pay for equal work. It's common sense. It's also overdue. Let's close the gap & let's do it now." [twitter.com/VP]
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    This sort of feel-good legislation is idiotic. Jobs should be based on merit alone, not what's between your legs. I'm all for giving women more opportunities to succeed, but in the end the job has to go to the most qualified person.
    Like (5)
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    The US Constitution states that all people are born equal, yet our difference in salaries depending on gender is shocking stacked towards males. In order of reinstating our basic human rights, everyone should be paid equally, regardless of race, gender, religion, etc.
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    Not the federal government's business. Let the states decide this issue.
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    How a business chooses to pay its employees is not the concern of the government. If a woman doesn't like her pay she can find another job and then quit her current one.
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    It should be on the qualilty of the person rather than the gender.
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    Folks, we need to stop looking through this prism of political correctness and select the most qualified person for the job. Everything has to be balanced with gender, race, religion and so many other ridiculous boxes that have to be checked. Let's get back to basics an choose the most qualified person.
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    While I believe that some wage differences are because of ability, I think many are truly because of gender.. I believe that if you can prove that a company is paying differently because of gender, there should be more punishment.
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    As a woman I am in favor of the most qualified not just putting in a woman to make everyone feel good!
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    Government has no business in interfering in business practices unless it affects interstate commerce. This is the only thing that the Constitution gives government authority to do. Even then government overstepping its authority is rampant. I have a better idea. Make every politician and bureaucrats study the Constitution and then take a test on it before they can be "hired". Have SEVERE PENALTIES for those who violate the Constitution.
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    Really? More law suits, more hostile work environment, more government control. I don't think business owners should ever be told who to value and how to do so by our corrupt government. As a female, it's been my experience that you will be valued according to your contributions because not doing so is not beneficial to your company. If you aren't making as much as your male counterparts, check yourself. There's probably a reason which has nothing to do with your sex.
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    "Equal pay for equal work is not only good for women, but also good for our economy. ‪#‎EqualPayDay‬" [facebook.com]
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    Yes. Whatever they're doing now is obviously not working given the low numbers of women in leadership positions and the consistent low rate of pay for women. In 1984, women were earning around $0.58 cents to every $1.00 earned by a man. In 30 years, it's only gone up about $0.20 cents.
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    Institutionalized discrimination can only be corrected systemically.
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    I feel that any position should be a decision based on merit and experience. However, that said, there are a multitude of women who fit that description and more than likely will be overlooked in favor of a man. As a woman who has experienced that discrimination first-hand, I have to agree that women should be given this opportunity.
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