Equal Pay Gets Hearing

On Equal Pay Day April 24, the Education and Labor Committee held hearings on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

In March U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, (D-Conn.) introduced the bill, which would tighten loopholes in existing pay equity law and reinstate the Equal Pay Initiative, proposed in 2000 to dedicate $27 million to teach employers and employees how to recognize and respond to wage discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act would also allow those bringing gender discrimination lawsuits to receive compensatory and punitive damages and require employers to provide pay data broken out by race, sex and national origin. April 24 symbolizes the number of days into a year women work before earning what men earned by December 31. On that day Sen. Barney Frank, (D-Mass.), also introduced the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007, making it illegal to fire or fail to hire or promote an employee based on gender identity or sexual orientation. In 33 states, it is legal to fire someone for being gay or lesbian, the Associated Press reported April 24. The other 17 states have laws banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Under the law, churches and the military would be exempt. Rep. Frank said he thinks the House of Representatives will vote on it this year, but is not optimistic about overcoming a presidential veto. Meanwhile, Michigan’s House Labor Committee began hearings April 24 on four bills to equalize pay between men and women, according to an April 24 Detroit Free Press article. One bill would allow employees to sue employers based on gender-based pay discrimination. Two bills would make pay discrimination a misdemeanor, including fines up top $50,000 for repeated violations. The last bill would create a commission to determine which jobs would fall under an umbrella requiring equal pay.