With the presidential election providing the major entertainment for the past number of months, reporting of many pieces of legislation has been lost in the shuffle. One of those bills is aimed at closing the wage gap that still exists and hasn’t changed a great deal in the 45 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963.
At the time of the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women were earning 59¢ for every $1.00 earned by their male counterparts. Today, that disparity has been cut by 18¢ to 77¢ for every $1.00 earned by male wage earners. In 45 years, the gain has been a mere 18¢ – a .004¢ gain for each year the Equal Pay Act has been in effect. The difference is a disgrace and a slam to every working woman who does the same job as her male counterpart.
Our illustrious third district representative, Mark Souder, is doing his part to make sure women stay in their place when it comes to wages. In July of this year, House Bill 1338, the Paycheck Fairness Act, was introduced. The bill passed the House by a vote of 246 to 178 with 9 abstentions. Of the 246 vote majority, 14 were Republicans who had the courage to step up and recognize the inequities that still exist for female employees.
Souder, of course, did the expected – he voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act. Along with the other Indiana Republican hoard, Souder chose to disregard the infinitesimal gains made by women in 45 years of Equal Pay Act enforcement.
The Paycheck Fairness Act proposes to remedy a number is issues including the following:
- Improves Equal Pay Act remedies – Plaintiffs will be allowed to recover compensatory and punitive damages instead of the current liquidated damages provided by the EPA.
- Allows an EPA lawsuit to proceed as a class action lawsuit with potential litigants to opt-out rather than opt-in as is now required. Under the new rules the members will be considered a part of the lawsuit unless they chose to opt-out of the lawsuit.
- Improves collection of data by requiring the EEOC to provide data identifying the sex, race, and national origin of employees.
- Prohibits employers from punishing employees who share salary information with each other. This change will make it much easier for employees to learn of pay disparities.
- Closes a loophole in the employers’ ability to raise the defense that the “disparity” is due to a factor other than sex. While employers currently can literally use about any argument – stronger negotiating skills, higher previous salary – the new Act tightens the affirmative defense by requiring the employer to show that the differential is due to a factor other than sex and is related to job performance.
How any conscientious representative could vote against a bill that is aimed at giving working women parity in the workplace is beyond me. But apparently, it isn’t beyond Souder. He now has two more years to practice his own brand of what he thinks serves the third district. But apparently that doesn’t include the working women of the third. Nope – according to Souder, baby, you should be happy that you have earned a .004¢ each year for 45 years.