House Passes Pay Equality Bills...Quickly!

Wow, the house can actually move quickly, who knew! Most bills go to die in committee almost immediately upon arrival. I guess the corporate lobbyists are still on vacation.

Here is the Feminist Daily Press release (let's give them some press!)

Paycheck Fairness Act, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act First Bills to Pass House

In an outstanding victory for women's rights, the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act were the first bills to pass the House in the new legislative session. The 0/congress/bills/111/hr12">Paycheck Fairness Act passed with a 256-163 vote and the 0/congress/bills/111/hr11">Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed with a 247-171 vote.

The Paycheck Fairness Act passed the House in the last Congress, but was never sent to the Senate floor. It will deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages.

This Ledbetter Act passed the House in the previous Congress, but Republicans filibustered the bill and prevented a vote in the Senate. It corrects the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire Rubber Co., Inc. Supreme Court decision (see PDF) that gutted the ability of women workers to sue for wage discrimination.
Ledbetter worked for Goodyear for 19 years before discovering that she was paid significantly less than her male counterparts with the same or less experience. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the complaint had to be filed within 180 days of the initial salary decision even if the victim is unaware of the discrimination until much later.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that "equal pay is an issue of fundamental fairness...but as families grapple with difficult economic times, equal pay for equal work is often about daily survival for millions of families," according to the Associated Press.

This is the first I even heard about these bills!

A summary of the bills from Congressional Quarterly:

The measure (HR 11), dubbed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, is designed to reverse a 2007 Supreme Court decision that made it impossible for workers to sue for wage discrimination they discovered only years after it initially occurred. It was passed by 247-171 and sent to the Senate, which could take it up this month.

The House also voted 256-163 for a second bill (HR 12), which would require employers seeking to justify unequal pay for male and female workers to prove that such disparities are job-related and required by a business necessity. It would bar retaliation by employers against employees who share salary information with their co-workers, and allow workers to collect both compensatory and punitive damages.

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