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senate Bill S. 862

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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08/26/2015
"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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08/26/2015
“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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08/26/2015
"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]
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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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05/08/2015
While I agree that women and men rightly should (and do, as I'll explain) receive equal pay for equal work, we must first properly identify the cause of this financial disparity before we can fix it. Even though the gender pay gap is not entirely false, it is by no means entirely true, either. Thanks to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, signed into law by JFK, it is a federal crime to pay employees differently based on sex, or national origin, leaving the only legitimate reasons to pay someone differently factors such as job position, experience, time spent at work, and productivity. The notion that women everywhere are universally paid $.77 to her immediate male colleague's dollar is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. If such a notion was true, then no men would be in the workforce at all because greedy employers who love them some cheap labor would simply hire a woman to do the same job at 23% discount. The gender pay gap is actually a gender *earnings* gap, and it is also a national average, not a universally applicable paradigm. The statistic comes from The Income, Earnings, and Poverty Data from the 2007 American Community Survey, released in 2010 by the US Census Bureau. It stated that in 2007, women's national median income across all industries was an average of $34,278, which is 77.5% of men's median income, $44,255. The gender earnings gap exists not because women are universally paid less than men, but because they generally don't take the same jobs that men do, or work the same hours. If we really wanted to get more women into high-paying fields such as science, medicine, or law, we have to get more women interested in those fields. This will simultaneously close the gender earnings gap, and advance women altogether. We are the result of the choices we make, and we must be the change we want to see in the world.
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Forestdog's Opinion
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05/07/2015
THERE IS ALREADY A FEDERAL LAW TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM WAGE DISCRIMINATION! If an employee can prove that someone of the opposite sex who has the EXACTLY same qualifications is paid more then they have a federal case.
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ArcherBroadmeadow's Opinion
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04/19/2015
The alleged pay gap is the result of choice, not discrimination.
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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 Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
    IntroducedMarch 25th, 2015

What is Senate Bill S. 862?

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. 862

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

Paycheck Fairness Act

Official Title

A bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.

    "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 (306)
    Follow
    Share
    While I agree that women and men rightly should (and do, as I'll explain) receive equal pay for equal work, we must first properly identify the cause of this financial disparity before we can fix it. Even though the gender pay gap is not entirely false, it is by no means entirely true, either. Thanks to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, signed into law by JFK, it is a federal crime to pay employees differently based on sex, or national origin, leaving the only legitimate reasons to pay someone differently factors such as job position, experience, time spent at work, and productivity. The notion that women everywhere are universally paid $.77 to her immediate male colleague's dollar is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. If such a notion was true, then no men would be in the workforce at all because greedy employers who love them some cheap labor would simply hire a woman to do the same job at 23% discount. The gender pay gap is actually a gender *earnings* gap, and it is also a national average, not a universally applicable paradigm. The statistic comes from The Income, Earnings, and Poverty Data from the 2007 American Community Survey, released in 2010 by the US Census Bureau. It stated that in 2007, women's national median income across all industries was an average of $34,278, which is 77.5% of men's median income, $44,255. The gender earnings gap exists not because women are universally paid less than men, but because they generally don't take the same jobs that men do, or work the same hours. If we really wanted to get more women into high-paying fields such as science, medicine, or law, we have to get more women interested in those fields. This will simultaneously close the gender earnings gap, and advance women altogether. We are the result of the choices we make, and we must be the change we want to see in the world.
    Like (102)
    Follow
    Share
    “If they do the same job, they should get the same pay.” [thehill.com]
    Like (163)
    Follow
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    "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]
    Like (100)
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    "Every single Republican in the US Senate voted against equal pay for equal work for women today. Unreal." [twitter.com/senwarren]
    Like (68)
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    I'm a walking, talking, thinking, reasonable woman. And I don't deserve a penny less than my male counterpart. Screw whatever religious doctrine you possess that makes you idiotically believe I am suppose to be subservient to men or that I deserve less.
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    THERE IS ALREADY A FEDERAL LAW TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM WAGE DISCRIMINATION! If an employee can prove that someone of the opposite sex who has the EXACTLY same qualifications is paid more then they have a federal case.
    Like (39)
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    The alleged pay gap is the result of choice, not discrimination.
    Like (13)
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    We cannot hope to have a free and equal society without economic equity for all marginalized and vulnerable communities. This legislation furthers the legal burden to provide fair compensation regardless of gender, and should have been signed into law decades ago.
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    They should be punished I believe. However, I don't think it's happening because I do not believe In a wage gap and think that work ethic, educational backgrounds, and time working should be a role in how much more or less you're paid compared to someone as well.
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    No
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    Same job is the same job. Shouldn't be paid different.
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    "Equal pay for equal work. It's common sense. It's also overdue. Let's close the gap and let's do it now." [twitter.com/VP]
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    “It's a bogus issue. It is against the law to discriminate against women for employment and to pay them less than you pay men, and it will continue to be.” Read more at http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20120513/GPG010403/205130557/Walker-faces-challenges-winning-some-female-voters
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    Women have been denied equal pay for a long time. It's about time to fix that.
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    This gap is largely a myth, and getting the government involved in ANOTHER issue that threatens no one's life, liberty, or property is a waste of time and money and detrimental to society.
    Like (7)
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    Yes! It's time that women be paid equal to what men are earning. It's crazy this is still an issue 100 + years after suffragette and women gaining the "right" to work. Let's get this done.
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    Women can't stand up for themselves? We need the Nanny State to make the big bad old businesses quit being mean to the girls??? This is as good a pretext as any, I suppose, for more government control. . . .
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    ““Wages should be equal, and there are laws to make it so, and they should be enforced.” Read more at http://time.com/3961603/jeb-bush-equal-pay-lgbt-discrimination/
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    When a woman is doing the same job as a man I do not care what field it is and they both should be making the same pay.
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