Monday, August 4, 2008

Call to Action on the Paycheck Fairness Act

As Speaker Pelosi points out on her website, gender-based wage discrimination is taking place even though our country has made significant progress on the issue. She mentions how "women only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man" which can "cost women anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million over a lifetime in lost wages." This is wrong and needs to be addressed. It is for that reason that Rep. Rosa DeLaura (D-CT) has introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act. Pelosi's website points out that in order to strengthen the Equal Pay Act and make it harder for employers to discriminate based upon gender, the Paycheck Fairness Act will do the following:
  • Requires that employers seeking to justify unequal pay bear the burden of proving that its actions are job-related and consistent with a business necessity.
  • Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers.
  • Puts gender-based discrimination sanctions on equal footing with other forms of wage discrimination – such as discrimination based on race, disability or age – by allowing women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages.
  • Requires the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training efforts to work with employers in order to eliminate pay disparities.
  • Requires the Department of Labor to continue to collect and disseminate wage information based on gender.
  • Creates a new grant program to help strengthen the negotiation skills of girls and women.
So you might be wondering why a male blogger is promoting this legislation. The reasoning behind that is plain and simple. Gender discrimination is wrong and has no place in our society. Furthermore, I believe that anytime there is discrimination it has a negative impact on our community as a whole. It's for those reasons and others that I believe everyone should rally behind the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The bill passed the House on July 31 by a margin of 247-178, but since the Senate is now on recess the bill's future schedule isn't set in concrete. So while the Senate is out on their August break, people should call into their Senators' office and let their staff know that this is an important issue and should be addressed ASAP. You might also want to get in touch with the leadership of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The more people who call in and tell the Senate to take action, the better chance there is that this bill will be addressed once the Senate returns.

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