Paycheck Fairness Act fails in the Senate
A bill seeking to close the wage gap for women failed in the Senate today.
The Paycheck Fairness Act didn’t receive the 60 votes needed to override a filibuster as lawmakers voted along party lines. S. 3220 failed by a vote of 52 to 47 with Democrats voting in support of the bill and Republicans voting against it.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), would have strengthened the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to ensure that women are paid equally for performing the same or comparable work as their male colleagues.
“In this country, they say, ‘Work hard and play by the rules and you’ll get ahead.’ Well, we work hard every single day but we find that the rules are different for women than for men,” said Mikulski.
Women in 1963 made 41% less than men; women today still make 23% less than men for doing the same work. Mikulski emphasized that the persistent pay gap would cost an average woman and her family about $434,000 over the course of her career. And as a result of unequal pay, women are more likely to experience financial insecurity and rely more on Social Security benefits when they retire.
“Women still make less for doing the same job with the same education as men do. The pay gap is as real today as it was 49 years ago,” said Mikulski. “We want to ensure that we close the loopholes that have existed for 49 years.”
The Paycheck Fairness Act would have addressed those loopholes by requiring employers to show pay disparity is based on job performance instead of gender.
“No longer will employers be able to use almost any reason to make up any excuse so we don’t get paid. We do hard and dangerous things,” said Mikulski.
In addition, the bill would have barred employers from retaliating against employees for sharing information about their salaries.
Without the Paycheck Fairness Act, “if you even ask someone what they get paid, you even go to your human resources department and ask, you can be fired,” Mikulski pointed out.
The bill would have toughened the enforcement of the Equal Pay Act by allowing women to seek back pay and punitive damages in gender discrimination lawsuits.
Opponents of the Paycheck Fairness Act have argued that the bill would encourage “frivolous” lawsuits and subject employers to burdensome regulations.
In a letter sent to Senators on Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce objected to the bill for allowing “unlimited punitive and compensatory damages” and eroding “employer defenses for legitimate pay disparities”.
- Thomas.LOC.gov: Overview of S. 3220 “Paycheck Fairness Act”
- Senate.gov: Roll call vote #115 on S. 3220 “Paycheck Fairness Act” on June 5, 2012
- Mikulski.Senate.gov: Mikulski, Senate Democrats and Advocacy Groups Urge Senate Passage Of Paycheck Fairness Act
- YouTube.com/user/SenatorMikulski: Video of Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) at a press conference on equal pay – May 23, 2012
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Key Vote letter on S. 3220, the “Paycheck Fairness Act”
- Republican.Senate.gov: Job groups, editorials blast Dem bill
- WhatTheFolly.com: National coalition calls on Congress to improve Social Security benefits for women
- WhatTheFolly.com: List of Republican Senators who voted against the Paycheck Equality Act
Category: Analysis, Congress, Current Events, Economy, Government, News, Politics, U.S., Women's Rights · Tags: Barbara Mikulski, business, Democrats, employment, Equal Pay Act, frivolous lawsuit, gender discrimination, income and wealth gap, legal loopholes, pay equality, Paycheck Fairness Act, Republicans, retirement, S. 3220, Social Security, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, US Senate, US Senate Democrats, wages, women