The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 12) passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 256 to 163 on January 9, 2009. The legislation, sponsored by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and sponsored in the Senate by former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to give employees new ways to seek damages for gender-based wage discrimination.
SHRM has a strong record of supporting the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. We vigorously oppose discrimination based on gender, race, religion, color, national origin or sexual orientation.
However, SHRM strongly opposes the Paycheck Fairness Act as currently written because the bill would:
make employers liable for unlimited punitive damages under the FLSA for even unintentional pay disparities. The bill would eliminate current limits for back pay as well as for punitive and compensatory damages on employers.
facilitate class action lawsuits against employers by repealing the requirement that employees must give their written consent to become a party in an Equal Pay Act class action. The Paycheck Fairness Act would automatically include all relevant employees in a class, a provision that would inevitably and dramatically increase the number of plaintiffs in class actions.
restrict an employer’s flexibility to compensate its employees based on current law criteria, such as cost-of-living differences among geographic locations, different work responsibilities within similar job categories or prior salary history.