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The Paycheck Fairness Act

The Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced into the United States Senate on April 1, 2014 by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). The bill was to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 close holes in the Equal Pay Act, which made unequal pay illegal but left some loopholes for discrimination The Paycheck Fairness Act passed in the House in 2019 after being introduced in 1997 (Congress.gov). In March 2019, the House of Representatives voted 242-187 in favor of this law, but it was left unpassed in the Senate (Nilsenella).

 

The Paycheck Fairness Act would prohibit employers from seeking job applicants salary histories, not allow them to retaliate when employees disclose salary information, allow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to collect wage data based on sex, race, and national origin (Quinlan). All of these measures ensure greater transparency to more effectively prevent employer discrimination.

Dealing With Opposition

Democratic View

The Democratic Party is known to support equal pay for equal work. Democrats believe that if women in this country are not paid equally then the economy suffers as a result. DNC Chair Tom Perez and DNC Women’s Caucus Chair Lottie Shackelford stated on Equal Pay Day, “Working women contribute $7.6 trillion to our GDP each year. In four out of ten American households with children, the mother is either the sole or primary breadwinner. It’s long past time we make sure that women are guaranteed the same pay as men for doing the same work.” 


U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) proposed The Paycheck to close any loopholes or escape clauses that were seen in the Equal Pay Act., was signed by former President Barack Obama on January 29, 2009 (Democrats).



Republican View


In 2019, the 187 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, only seven of them voting to pass this bill. The bill failed due to opposition from Republicans in the Senate (Nilsenella).


Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine believes that the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 provide women enough protections in the workplace, and that a Paycheck Fairness Act isn’t necessary. Many progressive leaders feel that the laws in place don’t work well enough evidenced by the fact that the gender pay gap still exists. Susan Collins explained, “In other cases, [wage disparity] may be due to personal decisions that women make to leave the workforce to raise children for a number of years and then return to the workforce, for example.” Many Republicans have argued that this bill makes it too easy for employees to sue businesses or corporations (Pasulka). Senate Republicans have blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act multiple times while House Republicans won’t allow a vote on it (majorityleader.gov)


Finding Common Ground


In order to pass this bill, both Republicans and Democrats need to get past their differences and come to a compromise. Democrat legislators need to explain how the current equal pay bills are not protecting workers enough and address the loopholes present in the Equal Pay Act. For example, many employers agrue in court that another factor (other than sex/gender) was the reason behind the pay decision. Oftentimes, companies make it seem like there is no one available for you to compare yourself to, so you can not prove you are being paid less than your counterpart. 


Many Republicans argue that the pay gap exists because most women choose to leave the workforce to raise their children. Even though this may be true, it is important to note that many women don’t always willingly leave their jobs to take care of their children, but are pressured to leave. Women still do the majority of child care and need to pursue fields which have more flexible hours. Mothers also face discrimination in the workforce which may make it easier to leave. Furthermore, when women have children they receive a pay cut but while men have children their pay increases significantly. A study found that fathers could get promoted even when their performance is worse because successful fathers are seen as less hostile and more likeable while successful mothers are perceived as less dedicated to their work (Hess).

Who To Contact

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-6665

Senator Deb Fischer

(R-NE)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-655

Senator Marco Rubio 

(R-FL)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-3041

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-6665

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-2541

Senator John Cornyn

(R-TX)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-2934

Senator Rick Scott

(R-FL)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-5274

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-6665

Senator Susan Collins

(R-ME)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-2523

Senator Ted Cruz

(R-TX)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-5922

Senator David Perdue

(R-GA)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-3521

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

D.C. Office Phone #: (202)-224-6665

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©2020 by The Bipartisan Feminist Project.

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