Solis, Ledbetter Promote Paycheck Fairness Act in DOL Webcast

September 21, 2010 - by: Holly Jones 4 COMMENTS

This morning, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis hosted a live webcast promoting the passage of and fielding audience questions about the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA).

The webcast, which featured Lilly Ledbetter as cohost, emphasized the current administration’s efforts to eliminate wage discrimination while promoting wage transparency in the workplace, noting that passage of the PFA is now the next in a long series of steps toward wage equality.

The PFA would amend the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) in numerous ways, including:

  • providing for compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the EPA;
  • reversing the requirement that employees opt in to class-action EPA lawsuits (instead permitting them to opt out of the suit); and
  • prohibiting retaliation against employees who inquire about, discuss, or disclose wage information.

The PFA (S. 182; H.R. 11) was initially introduced in 2008 as a companion to the Lilly Ledbetter Act. The bill, which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2009, has since been on hold in the Senate. Secretary Solis said she is hopeful that the bill will be taken up again and discussed before the Senate adjourns for the year.

During the webcast, Solis and Ledbetter talked candidly about the ways they feel the PFA will benefit workers across the nation, chiefly focusing on the bill’s antiretaliation measures. Ledbetter noted that the PFA would have given her the right to discuss her wages with coworkers and superiors without fear of retaliation.

Employer groups and other critics of the bill have expressed particular concern over the Act’s provisions allowing prevailing plaintiffs to recover compensatory and punitive damages. Opponents also note that the lack of damage caps in the bill could leave small businesses open to potentially crippling penalties.

Further, the bill’s opponents question whether the bill could have the unintended consequence of actually lessening pay for performance by forcing employers to operate their businesses more defensively and in anticipation of costly and time-consuming litigation.

Learn more about discrimination with the Mastering HR: Discrimination report

About Holly Jones:
Holly Jones, Legal Editor at BLR--Business and Legal Resources, has written and edited countless alerts, articles, newsletters, and manuals on various topics of labor and employment law. Among the products she has edited areHR Guide to Employment Law: A Practical Compliance Reference, Fifty Employment Laws in Fifty States, Employers State Law Alert, and Wage & Hour Compliance: Practical Solutions for HR. Holly is a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School and a licensed attorney in the state of Tennessee.
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4 COMMENTS

1 Kelly Kline
08:30:07, 24/09/10

As with any employment related legislation there needs to be a balancing of everyone’s interests so there is fairness to both the employee and the employer.

Since in the HR world there is the use of so many “letters” I wonder if they could have come up w/ a better name than PFA. I see PFA and initially think “Protection from Abuse” order, not Paycheck Fairness Act. In HR we could be dealing w/ the PFA domestic abuse issues with employees as well as the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA). Just an observation.

2 C JOSEPH HOWARD
09:26:29, 24/09/10

I HAVE A STRONG BELIEF IN OPENNESS. I SUGGEST THE BILL BE AMENDED TO REQUIRE ALL EMPLOYERS, INCLUDING THE FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS PUBLISH THE PAY, BONUSES AND BENEFITS PER HOUR WORKED FOR ALL EMPLOYEES.
IT SHOULD ALSO REQUIRE THAT COMPLAINTS OF UNFAIR TREATMENT BE MADE PROMPTLY. CJH

3 Shocked Again
09:33:28, 24/09/10

That second provision is just crazy. They really do want to destroy business, don’t they? I keep trying to believe they couldn’t be so foolish, but one branch of gov’t after another are working toward that ultimate goal. Scary.

4 Wayne Heward
10:02:39, 24/09/10

Another anti-business, anti-profit staged event from the Ministry of Government Propaganda. These are the same people that are begging us to hire more people. They must believe we are idiots.

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