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ACLU Supports the Paycheck Fairness Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2008
12:15 PM

CONTACT: ACLU
Rachel Perrone, (202) 675-2312, media@dcaclu.org

 
ACLU Supports the Paycheck Fairness Act
Urges House Education & Labor Committee to pass a clean bill
 
WASHINGTON - July 24 - The American Civil Liberties Union today urged the House Education and Labor Committee to pass H.R. 1338, the Paycheck Fairness Act, with no weakening amendments. This important legislation would update the Equal Pay Act, one of the primary laws addressing pay discrimination.

Court decisions and loopholes have chipped away at the Equal Pay Act over the years, making it less effective in combating pay discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act, with 228 cosponsors to date, would strengthen and improve protections against workplace discrimination.

“There should be no doubt that improvements to the Equal Pay Act are necessary,” said ACLU Washington Legislative Office Director Caroline Fredrickson. “More than four decades after the enactment of the Equal Pay Act, women still make only 77 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts, a wage disparity that cannot be explained by differences in qualifications, education, skills, training, responsibility or life choices. Rather, in many cases, the pay disparity has resulted from unlawful sex discrimination.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would take several important steps toward remedying pay discrimination. It would require employers to demonstrate that any differences in the wages paid men and women holding the same position and doing the same work stem from factors other than sex; prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages; clarify that the Equal Pay Act’s establishment provision would permit reasonable comparisons between employees to determine fair wages; and strengthen penalties for equal pay violations.

Additionally, the bill would bolster the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) ability to handle pay discrimination cases by authorizing additional training for EEOC staff to better identify and manage wage disputes. The bill would also require the EEOC to develop regulations directing employers to collect wage data, reported by race, sex and national origin, of employees. It is particularly important that data on pay discrimination be disaggregated by race and national origin, because, as compared to every dollar earned by men, women make 77 cents, but worse still, African American women make only 64 cents and Latina women make only 52 cents for every dollar earned by a white man.

Said ACLU Legislative Counsel Vania Leveille, “Last summer, the House Education and Labor Committee and the House of Representatives took action to protect victims of workplace discrimination by passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act is an important and measured approach to ending wage discrimination and is another critical weapon in the battle against sex discrimination in the workplace. We urge committee members to support the Paycheck Fairness Act, and oppose any weakening amendments.”

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