On Wednesday, the Paycheck Fairness Act, also known as H.R. 7, passed the U.S. House of Representatives, with a final vote of 242-187 that included seven Republicans. The bill must pass the Senate and be signed by the President to become law.
The Paycheck Fairness Act aims to strengthen protections against wage discrimination and amend the discrepancies found in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which requires men and women to receive equal pay for equal work. However, the Equal Pay Act failed to protect female employees from pay discrimination based on gender. The bill also complements the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which ensured that workers can challenge pay discrimination.
President of the Feminist Majority, Eleanor Smeal said, “It’s 2019 and women are still earning on average significantly less than their male counterparts in the workplace. The Paycheck Fairness Act provides employees with more remedies to challenge pay discrimination, protects employees from retaliation for sharing salaries with colleagues, and prohibits employers from demanding salary history during the hiring process–all factors that contribute to the modern gender wage gap.”
Democrats consider the gender-based wage discrimination and disparity a top priority; statistics show that women that work full time in the U.S., on average, make 80 cents to every dollar their male counterparts make.
If signed to law, the bill would ban employers from asking candidate what their previous salary was, prevent retaliation by employers against workers that discuss their salary with other workers, and ensure businesses get penalized if unequal wages are the result of discrimination against women. The bill also fortifies transparency of employers for workers.
In 1997, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) first introduced the bill; since then, the bill has been introduced by DeLauro 11 times and passed the House twice. However, Republicans tirelessly filibustered and blocked the bill. Advocates of the bill are pushing for it to pass through the Senate.
DeLauro said, “We are in a different environment…We’re looking at the intersection of where the public is on men and women and the workforce, and we’re looking at a body that is over 100 women who are here. Equal pay for equal work is now the center of public discourse today.”
Media Resources: Feminist Majority Press Release 3/27/19; Vox 3/27/19; Politico 3/27/19; Congress H.R. 7 1/30/29; Feminist Newswire 1/30/19, 4/4/17