Senate Blocks Paycheck Fairness Act

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. June 9, 2021
The U.S. Capitol

​On June 8, Republican senators blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have barred prospective employers from asking about applicants' salary histories during the hiring process. The legislation narrowly passed the House of Representatives in April. 

We've gathered articles on the bill from SHRM Online and other trusted media outlets.

Bill's Main Provisions

The bill also would have limited employers to such factors as education, training and experience when justifying pay differences in wage-discrimination claims. In addition, the legislation would have prohibited employers from retaliating against workers who discuss salaries.

(The Hill)

Concerns About Legislation

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) expressed its concerns about the bill in an April letter to congressional leaders. SHRM wrote, "Our members, many of which represent small and mid-sized businesses, have concerns that H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, would restrict their ability to base pay decisions on the legitimate business practices they currently use to determine compensation, such as professional experience, training, education, skills, and shift differentials."

The letter added, "While we agree that salary history should not be the sole factor in setting compensation, employers should have the ability to discuss salary expectations with prospective employees. Salary expectations help employers establish the value of the position to the organization as well as competitiveness of the market."

(SHRM Online)

Opposing Views

The Paycheck Fairness Act failed to advance by a vote of 49-50, falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed to succeed. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized the bill, saying it would saddle hospitals, schools and small businesses with damaging new legal burdens. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke in support of the bill, saying, "We've been talking about the wage gap for years now with no action taken by the Senate."

(CNN)

Wage Gap

Women who work full time year-round are paid, on average, 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the National Women's Law Center. This wage gap is worse for women of color. Black women typically make 63 cents, Native American women 60 cents and Latinas 55 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

(USA Today)

Wage Equity Act

Most Republicans support the Wage Equity Act, introduced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. The Wage Equity Act would encourage companies to voluntarily analyze employee pay. The bill would also direct the U.S. Government Accountability Office to study the impacts of women leaving the workforce for family-related reasons.

(Axios)

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