House votes, narrowly, to pass Paycheck Fairness Act
Across the country, women on average earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men for equal work. This gender pay gap contributes to a more difficult economic recovery for women and families.
According to a February 2021 report from the National Women’s Law Center, more than 40 percent of the 12.2 million women’s jobs lost between February 2020 and April 2020 have not yet returned.
Additionally, the report found that the women’s labor force participation rate was at 57 percent in January 2021 — the lowest rate since 1988.
The House voted Thursday – by a narrow 217-210 margin – to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will:
- Require employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons and not based on gender;
- Ban retaliation against workers who discuss their wages;
- Limits how employers can use the salary history of prospective employees;
- Create a negotiation and skills training program;
- Remove obstacles in the Equal Pay Act to allow workers to participate in class action lawsuits that challenge systemic pay discrimination; and
- Improve the Department of Labor’s (DOL) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s tools for enforcing the Equal Pay Act.
“Today the House took a big step forward on equal pay for women,” Eight District Democrat Don Beyer said. “This historic legislation to reduce the wage gap and increase fairness in the workplace is long overdue. The Paycheck Fairness Act will help American women and the millions of families which depend on them, and strengthen our nation’s economy.”
“Persistent pay inequity impacts not only women, but their families and households,” Fourth District Democrat Donald McEachin said. “Women are the sole or co-breadwinners in two thirds of American families with children. If pay equity were finally instituted, the poverty rate for all working women would be cut in half and for working single mothers by almost half.”
“Working women have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, served as essential workers keeping our communities connected, and taken on additional hardships and responsibilities as a result of the pandemic. When these Virginians are paid less than men for the same work, they are denied income that could be used to pay medical bills, cover the cost of rent, send their kids to college, or contribute to our local economy,” Seventh District Democrat Abigail Spanberger said. “The Paycheck Fairness Act is a critical step toward making pay equity a reality, and I’m proud to vote to pass it today. Pay equity is fundamentally an issue of supporting American families — and as we recover from this pandemic and more women return to the workplace, we must give these working moms both the income they need to succeed and the tools that are required to push back against discrimination in the workplace.”
“Everyone deserves equal pay for equal work. Unfortunately, the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act is nothing more than a messaging bill that would benefit trial lawyers instead of women in the workforce and impose a costly and burdensome one-size fits all mandate on businesses,” said First District Republican Rob Wittman, who voted against the measure.
“Rather than promoting workplace equality, H.R. 7 opens the door for frivolous lawsuits, in turn creating disincentives to hiring women and perpetuating the very discrimination the Majority claims they hope to solve. It also limits the rights of prospective employees in the hiring process and impedes American job creators with millions of dollars in compliance costs. Hardworking Americans and businesses should have the freedom to choose what’s best for them, not the federal government.”