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Editorial Hits ‘Trial Lawyer Paycheck Act’

Posted Jun 5, 2012 10:19 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An editorial is cheering the apparent demise of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) editorial criticizes the bill seeking to equalize pay for men and women as “a trial lawyer doozy.” The Senate holds a procedural vote today on a measure to debate the bill; it is not expected to get the 60 votes needed to proceed, Reuters reports. The law would prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who share information about their pay and strengthen remedies for sex-based pay discrimination, Reuters says.

Gender-based pay discrimination is already prohibited by federal law, the editorial says, and any male-female wage gap "is mostly a function of occupational and lifestyle choices." The proposed legislation would require businesses to comply with “a raft of new regulations” to justify pay decisions, leading to a loss of flexibility in compensation, the editorial says.

“The bill ought to be called the ‘Trial Lawyer Paycheck Act,’ since it is a recipe for a class-action boom,” the Wall Street Journal says. “The law automatically lists women as plaintiffs in class actions when lawyers sue employers, thereby requiring female employees to opt out of litigation with which they don't agree. Businesses would be treated as guilty until shown to be innocent, having to prove in court that their pay practices aren't the result of workplace bias. The legislation contains no caps on damage awards, allowing plaintiffs to claim unlimited punitive damages even in cases of unintentional discrimination.”

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