President Obama released a statement calling for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, giving a publicity boost to a panel that plans to release a report today, the Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force. The President said:
We cannot do this work alone. So today, I thank the House for its work on this issue and encourage the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, a common-sense bill that will help ensure that men and women who do equal work receive the equal pay that they and their families deserve. Passing this bill is one of the Task Force’s key recommendations, and I hope Congress will act swiftly so that I can sign it into law.
The message that many business owners will hear from the President is not “common-sense” and “fairness” but rather, “Get ready for more government rules to micromanage your business, along with an increased risk of lawsuits, no matter how honestly and fairly you treat your employees. The more jobs you create, the more the risk!”
Now, please invest and help our economy grow.
Manufacturers strongly support equal employment opportunities for American workers and oppose any form of unlawful discrimination. Remedies available under existing law prohibit discrimination to protect
men and women working under similar conditions from pay disparities in jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility.
The proposed Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 12, S. 182) would alter the existing Equal Pay Act to allow unprecedented penalties of unlimited punitive and compensatory damages in cases of suspected discrimination. This exposes manufacturers of all sizes to increased litigation and a spate of frivolous class-action suits even when they act with a reasonable belief that their pay policies are lawful.
Under this legislation, equal pay class-action suits would change significantly from a system of “opt-in” to “opt-out.” This provision would encourage frivolous class-action suits.
If enacted, this bill would change current law to require employers to justify pay disparities through “bona fide” factors (education, training and experience). It would also require gender-based pay disparities to be
substantiated as a “business necessity” and would curtail pay differences based on market factors, previous salary history and geographic location.
This bill would allow for the disclosure of confidential salary information, require employers to report wage data through the re-introduction of a flawed mandatory survey and expand the eligibility to file claims beyond employees to include job applicants.
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