Labor & Employment

ABA president supports House discussion of equal pay for equal work

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ABA President Bob Carlson sent a letter to key members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor on Tuesday, expressing his support for proposed improvements to the federal law related to gender-based wage discrimination.

Carlson commended Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, chair of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, and Rep. Alma Adams, chair of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, for scheduling a Feb. 13 joint hearing on HR 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and asked that his comments be made part of the record.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, of Connecticut, introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in late January to “provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex and for other purposes.” According to the text of the bill, many women continue to earn significantly less pay than men for equal work, despite the enactment of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

“Enacted over a half a century ago, the EPA needs a tuneup—it is sorely out of date and out of touch with today’s business world,” Carlson wrote in the letter. “It no longer is an effective legal vehicle for uncovering and correcting workplace pay inequities. While the pay gap differential has been reduced since the EPA was enacted, it still exists and is still significant.”

Carlson told Bonamici and Adams that the Paycheck Fairness Act will make “critical, common-sense improvements” to the Equal Pay Act, and that the ABA supports several components of the bill in accordance with policy adopted in 2010 related to its commitment to eliminate workplace discrimination.

Specifically, he said, the Paycheck Fairness Act will update the definition of a work “establishment;” clarify the “factor other than sex” defense; strengthen the remedies available under the EPA, and the oversight and enforcement mechanisms; and prohibit retaliation for disclosure of salary information.

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