Paycheck Fairness Act Archives - Shopfloor

Senate Votes for Jobs over Job-Killing Paycheck Fairness Act

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | 4 Comments

By a vote of 58 to 41 this morning, the Senate effectively blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act (S.3772) by failing to garner the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture on the legislation. This was a tough vote for many due to the sound bite appeal of the bill’s title, but in the end they did the right thing and voted for jobs. Supporters claim that the bill would have established gender pay equity in the workplace. Unfortunately, the legislation would have done nothing to prevent actual instances of illegal discrimination. Instead, it would have posed a tremendous threat to manufacturers’ efforts to create and retain jobs by inviting uncertainty to almost every pay decision employers make. Manufacturers are committed to fair pay in the workplace, but it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which this bill would not have led to lower wages and fewer jobs.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would have invited unwarranted and costly litigation against employers at a time when businesses are struggling in the weak economic recovery. We appreciate that the Senate recognized this misguided bill’s harmful impact on job creation and prevented it from moving forward. With today’s vote now behind us, we remain committed to working with Congress to prioritize proposals that will promote economic growth and help manufacturers create jobs.

The Senate Returns With a Choice: Jobs or Paycheck Fairness Act?

By | Briefly Legal, Human Resources, Labor Unions | 4 Comments

From today’s Congressional Record, Daily Digest, noting the Senate’s convening at 9:30 a.m.:

Program for Wednesday: After the transaction of any morning business (not to extend beyond 11 a.m.), Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3772, Paycheck Fairness Act, and if cloture is not invoked again, Senate will proceed to a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 510, FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

Shopfloor has had offered several posts lately on the substantial flaws with the Paycheck Fairness Act, starting with its imposition of a second-guessing federal government and cash-seeking trial lawyers in the place of employers in making management decisions. Politically, the legislation always seemed like a pre-election move to motivate campaign workers and contributors in organized labor and other activist agglomerations.

Now a Senate vote must be taken to meet those political commitments, and there’s the minimal amount of work being done to demonstrate half-seriousness of intent. The White House gave Labor Secretary Hilda Solis the go-ahead to give a rare  interview in the mainstream media — a brief segment in Marketplace Radio — and there’s a White House blog post by Terrell McSweeny, domestic policy adviser to the Vice President. Not the big political guns, to say the least.
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So Many Bills, So Little Time — Thank Goodness

By | Briefly Legal, Human Resources | One Comment

From The Hill, “Groups allied with the Democrats go for broke“:

The ACLU is lobbying the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is expected to come up for a cloture vote as soon as Wednesday. The measure, which already passed the House, is designed to close the wage gap between men and women in the workplace. 

Last week, the civil rights group sent a letter to senators saying that the group would be “scoring both the cloture vote and the vote on the merits” when the bill comes up for debate. 

Odd. We had always thought the ACLU was a “civil liberties” organization defending the Bill of Rights, but here they are pushing legislation to redistribute wealth via federal mandates and lawsuits against employers. It’s almost as if they’re a generic left-wing outfit, not a civil rights group at all.

Anyway, The Hill’s story cites the National Association of Manufacturers’ “Key Vote” letter against the Paycheck Fairness Act, S. 3772.

The Wall Street Journal also publishes a good op-ed (subscription) on the legislation by June O’Neill of the American Enterprise Institute, “Washington’s Equal Pay Obsession: There’s no epidemic of gender discrimination. So why is Congress proposing another law?

Women in the workplace don’t face rampant pay discrimination, and yet the Senate may soon pass a bill—already passed in the House—premised on the erroneous charge that they do. The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) would be a harmful addition to the many federal laws that already protect women and men from labor-market discrimination.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) gave a floor speech Monday anticipating Wednesday’s cloture vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. It’s just the start, he suggests. Next, the Fair Pay Act!

Paycheck Fairness? Voters Want More Jobs, Not Fewer

By | Briefly Legal, Human Resources | 3 Comments

Voters sent a message to policymakers in the mid-term elections that they expect Congress to focus on jobs. One of the first bills that the Senate will be considering since the elections, the Paycheck Fairness Act, does indeed focus on jobs — — but negatively. The legislation will make it more difficult for employers to create and retain jobs. Were the supporters not paying attention on Nov. 2?

The National Association of Manufacturers continues to highlight the flaws of this harmful proposal, sending our “Key Vote” letter to Senate offices this morning. We’re urging all Senators to oppose the legislation because it promotes uncertainty in pay practices and exposes employers to costly litigation, both of which have a chilling effect on job creation.

American workers are already effectively protected from discrimination through remedies available under existing law. The Equal Pay Act protects men and women from pay disparities in jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility and are performed under similar working conditions.

Another major objection is to the legislation’s invitation to more lawsuits against employers. As the NAM letter argued:

By removing all limits to punitive and compensatory damage awards on claims made under the Equal Pay Act, S. 3772 would expose employers to increased threats of litigation – even when unintentional pay disparities may have occurred. Its passage would likely prompt many employers to purchase additional legal liability insurance, increasing their costs and decreasing their ability to raise wages, increase benefits or hire new workers. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which the bill would not lead to lower wages and fewer jobs.

Senators should not grant trial lawyers new incentives for filing suits against employers, should not burden employers with new and unnecessary mandates, and they should acknowledge the will of the electorate by voting no on cloture for S. 3772, the Paycheck Fairness Act.

A Lame-Duck Threat to Jobs: Paycheck Fairness Act

By | Briefly Legal, Economy, Human Resources | No Comments

The most threatening piece of anti-employer, anti-jobs legislation in the lame-duck session is S. 3772, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which could come up for a cloture vote in the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill extends federal government control over wage decisions made by employers to reflect their business’ specific circumstances, setting a rigid “pay equity” standard as the priority above all other factors. The Chicago Tribune summarized the problems in an editorial, “Paycheck Fairness?

The proposed law says that in cases where a pay disparity between men and women is challenged in court, an employer would have to prove there is some reason for the gap other than discrimination. The employer would also have to prove that the gap serves a necessary business purpose. And even then, the employer could be in trouble if a court determines that an “alternative employment practice” would serve the same purpose without skewing the salaries.

Those judgment calls go by another name: management decisions. The legislation would open businesses to wide second-guessing of decisions they made to hire and promote the most effective work force in a competitive environment. It would leave businesses with one eye on the competition and one eye on what a judge might decide in hindsight is a preferable “alternative employment practice.”

Uncle Sam to the nation’s employers: We’ll tell you how to run your business.

The bill would also be a bonanza for the trial lawyers, because it removes limits on awards in employment discrimination litigation and makes participation in class-action lawsuits a matter of opt-out, rather than opt-in.

The Hudson Institute on Wednesday, Nov. 10, sponsored a forum on Capitol Hill on the legislation, “The Negative Employment Effects of the Paycheck Fairness Act.” Papers and presentations:

Paycheck Fairness Act: The Pressure’s Already on Senator Manchin

By | Briefly Legal, Human Resources, Labor Unions | 2 Comments

Chris Stirewalt of The Washington Examiner reports at Fox News on the political speculation surrounding newly elected West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, including his wooing by Republicans to switch parties. Seems unlikely, even with GOP support of coal-to-diesel.

Still, a fun speculative political piece, and since this morning is turning into Paycheck Fairness Act Day at Shopfloor.org, we’ll quote the relevant passage. From “Today’s Power Play: GOP Sweetens its Offer to Manchin“:

The first indication of where Manchin will stand likely comes next week in the lame duck session.Labor groups who backed Manchin over Republican John Raese are pushing hard for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill, already passed by the House, would require employers who have multiple facilities in the same counties to pay all their employees the same wage.

It would be a coup for unions, because it would allow unions to limit the competitive advantage of non-union operations. Since labor provided key votes and support for Manchin, they likely will be counting on his vote.

Manchin, though, was also backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which vehemently opposes the bill.

Earlier today…

Paycheck Fairness Act: Negative Employment Effects

By | Briefly Legal, Economy, Human Resources | 2 Comments

The Hudson Institute is sponsoring a forum on Capitol Hill Wednesday, “The Negative Employment Effects of the Paycheck Fairness Act.” If jobs are the priority, then this bill has to fail.

When the Senate reconvenes for its lame-duck session later this month, senators will consider the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would vastly expand the role of government in employers’ compensation decisions. The bill would require the government to collect data from employers on the sex, race, and national origin of employees, significantly adding to red tape, paperwork, and hiring costs, and trapping firms in costly litigation.

At a time when the unemployment rate is above 9 percent and almost 15 million Americans are out of work, the Paycheck Fairness Act would impose substantial new burdens on employers that would encourage hiring overseas and discourage hiring in America. As the Washington Post concluded in a recent editorial, “Discrimination is abhorrent, but the Paycheck Fairness Act is not the right fix.”

Please join Hudson Institute to analyze the costs of the bill and its effects on employment from the economic, legal, and small business perspectives at this Capitol Hill event. Luncheon keynote speaker is the 24th U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, now a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

The event starts at 9:45 a.m. at the Capitol Visitors Center.

Apologizing for America, Administration Touts Paycheck Fairness Act

By | Briefly Legal, Economy, Human Resources | 7 Comments

The State Department last week submitted a report to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the first time the United States has provided such a self-accounting under the U.N.’s Universal Periodic Review. The basic message is that the United States is deeply flawed, injustice abounds, but the Obama Administration is bringing us into a new age of enlightenment and justice.

This document gives a partial snapshot of the current human rights situation in the United States, including some of the areas where problems persist in our society. In addressing those areas, we use this report to explore opportunities to make further progress and also to share some of our recent progress. For us, the primary value of this report is not as a diagnosis, but rather as a roadmap for our ongoing work within our democratic system to achieve lasting change.

The Administration believes that roadmap directs us to the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would further inject the federal government into every hiring and pay decision in the private sector while opening employers to a new wave of pay discrimination lawsuits.

37. As one of President Obama’s first official acts, he signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which helps women who face wage discrimination recover their lost wages. Shortly thereafter, the President created the White House Council on Women and Girls to seek to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly and equally in all matters of public policy. Thus, for instance, the Administration supports the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will help ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.

The one thing the bill would help ensure is litigation. It allows unlimited punitive and compensatory damages in cases of suspected discrimination, while changing class-action suits from a system of “opt-in” to “opt-out,” giving trial lawyers additional leverage to pressure companies into huge settlements. (The National Association of Manufacturers has prepared a ManuFACTS sheet that details the legislation’s many anti-employer provisions.)

When each new employee is a potential lawsuit, why would a company hire anyone?

Senate Majority Reid filed cloture on the latest version of the bill, S. 3722, making its consideration possible in next week’s lame-duck session of Congress. The original Senate bill, S. 182, was introduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton in January 2009 before she became Secretary of State, a position from which she now promotes the same bad idea.

If jobs and the economy are truly a priority for the President and his Administration, he will ask Sen. Reid to make certain the Paycheck Fairness Act is removed from the Senate’s schedule and relegated to the vault of bad legislation.

And drop the appeals to the United Nations. Employers in the United States have enough problems without having their own government imply they fall short when it comes to human rights. With this report, Administration sends a message, “We really don’t think very highly of business.”

(Hat tip: Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, writing at National Review Online’s The Corner, a post, “The U.S. as U.N. Punching Bag.“)

President Pushes for Anti-Opportunity Paycheck Fairness Act

By | Briefly Legal, Economy, Human Resources | One Comment

The White House theme on Thursday was economic opportunity for woman, with messaging pegged to a new National Economic Council document, “Jobs and Economic Securityfor America’s Women,” President Obama’s “backyard” event in Seattle, and his campaigning for Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

Unfortunately, in its highlighting of the Paycheck Fairness Act, the White House’s messaging Thursday conflicts with the President’s overarching theme, that of economic recovery and jobs growth. At the same time, the messaging reminds the public of the political power of the litigation lobby.

The White House blog listed the Paycheck Fairness Act as No. 2 in its list, following Lilly Ledbetter Act Fair Pay Act, in its list, “10 Ways Our Economic Policies Benefit Women.”

It’s weird to be boasting about a bill that hasn’t passed yet. But more importantly, the legislation would lead to a more stagnant labor market, transfer more business wealth into the pockets of trial lawyers, and raise marginal costs of each new hire. A White House concerned about jobs should be renouncing the bill, not touting it.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would extend the federal government’s control over employers’ personnel decisions through rigid “pay equity” mandates and then expanding the grounds for litigation for even unintentional violations. In making hiring and salary decisions, an employer’s chief concern would not be whether the person is worth the price in the competitive labor market, but rather, “Am I going to get sued?”

As the National Association of Manufacturers’ 2009 “Key Vote” letter to the House explained:

By removing all limits to punitive and compensatory damage awards on claims made under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 12) would expose employers to increased threats of litigation – even when unintentional pay disparities may have occurred. Its passage would likely prompt many employers to purchase additional legal liability insurance, increasing their costs and decreasing their ability to raise wages, increase benefits or hire new U.S. House of Representatives workers. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which the bill would not lead to lower wages and fewer jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Reid re-introduced the Senate version of the bill, S. 3722, in late September and filed cloture for possible Senate consideration in a lame-duck session of Congress. We tend to think the maneuvering is more about exciting the political base than actually pushing through the bill in a very crowded, riven post-election Congress.

Still, for employers it’s hard to ignore: A President campaigning on expanded economic opportunities for women by touting legislation that would diminish opportunities for men and women, both.

Fact Check: Is There A Small Business Exemption in the Paycheck Fairness Act?

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | One Comment

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has filed cloture on the long pending Paycheck Fairness Act (S.3772) which queues the bill up for possible action during the lame-duck session of Congress. The labor unions, trial lawyers and other activists are going to find it hard to make a persuasive case for legislation that will expose employers to the threat of unlimited damages and increase litigation costs while doing little to actually prevent instances of illegal discrimination. Many of these groups and Members of Congress try to diminish the economic impact, asserting that small businesses are exempt from the bill. Recently Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) claimed: “It is also important to say that this only applies to big business, this does not apply to the sandwich shop around the corner.”

Really? Really? Well let’s take a look…

The legislation’s Section 11 is in fact named: “Small Business Assistance”. This provision states that the bill would go in effect 6 months after the date of enactment. Additionally the bill directs the Department of Labor and the EEOC to provide small businesses “technical” assistance to comply with the new law as well as reiterating that the bill would apply to employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Well who is covered by the FLSA? For this we turn to Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which enforces that law. And, according to the Labor Department “almost every employee working in the United States” is covered by the FLSA.” Well then, who’s exempted?

Employers that have fewer than two employees and do less than $500,000 a year in business would not be covered. That really is a SMALL business. Read More