The House Passes the Paycheck Fairness Act, in a Victory for Equal Pay

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the Paycheck Fairness Act Fairness Act passed in the U. S. House of Representatives in a 217-210 vote. This critical legislation advances racial and gender equity and addresses the economic pain that is falling disproportionately on women of color in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The gender wage gap persists, twelve years after the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act will update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and provide additional protections against pay discrimination. Among other provisions, this bill will prohibit employers from relying on salary history to set pay when hiring, guarantee women can receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination as are available for race- or ethnicity-based discrimination, promote pay transparency by protecting employees from retaliation for discussing or disclosing their wages, and require employers to report race and gender wage gaps to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The following is a statement by Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice at the National Women’s Law Center:

“The gender wage gap has barely budged in the last decade and continues to thrive in almost every occupation, shortchanging women hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. Pay discrimination deepens the economic effects of the pandemic and has robbed women and their families of a financial cushion when they need it most—and undercuts their ability to build wealth over time. Today’s vote is a promise of change for the Black women, Latinas, and Native American women who are especially undervalued and underpaid—despite risking their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis to keep our country going. The Paycheck Fairness Act will finally bring pay practices into light by ensuring people can talk to each other about their wages without employer retaliation and prevent employers from setting pay based on salary history, a practice that allows pay discrimination to follow women and people of color from job to job. Women have waited long enough for equal pay, and now it’s the Senate’s turn to swiftly pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.”