In words of President Obama - “When women succeed here in America then the whole country succeeds… I’ve got two daughters, I expect them to be treated the same as somebody’s sons who are on the job.”

Way back in 1938 the Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which was amended by the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963, signed by President John F. Kennedy. On 1st April 2014, this Act under the name of Paycheck Fairness Act was again introduced in the Senate by Senator Barbara Mikulski. This was recommended by the lawmakers to curb the gender pay gap.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) was a renovation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The Paycheck Fairness Act would cover the loopholes of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that have handicapped its efficiency. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 declares that "no employer shall discriminate between employees on the basis of sex." But, it had effectively failed to achieve the target of ending the pay discrimination.

According to U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, equal pay stood as an obstacle for both women and families who were trying hard to move forward in life by paying the bills and achieving their American Dream.

Four Republican women Senators (Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska) “unanimously voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act.”

Provisions in the Paycheck Fairness Act

The Paycheck Fairness Act was meant to revise the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and protect the employees against the gender pay gap in all workplaces. It hardens the weak remedies of the Equal Pay Act that came out as a feeble tool in fighting out wage discrimination.

Paycheck Fairness Act:

  1. Instructs employers that wage differentials are not based on gender. There are other factors that determine wage differences.
  2. Stops punishment against workers who want to know about their employers’ wage determination practices or reveal their own wage.
  3. Allows reasonable comparison between employees within clearly defined geographical areas to calculate fair wages.
  4. Strengthens penalties for the violation of equal pay.
  5. Directs the US Department of Labor to help employers and collect wage-related data.
  6. Facilitates additional training for employees of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOE), so that they can identify and handle wage disputes better.
  7. Establishes the Secretary of Labor’s National Award for Pay Equity in the Workplace for an employer who has successfully eliminated wage differences between men and women.
  8. Starts training programs for girls and women to help them better negotiate their wages.
  9. Empowers the Secretary of Labor (Secretary) with added compensatory or punitive damages in a sex discrimination action.
  10. Directs the Secretary and the Commissioner of EEOE to jointly develop technical assistance material to small businesses to fulfill the requirements of this Act.

Paycheck Fairness Act is an addition to the Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prevents gender-based wage discrimination, whereas the Paycheck Fairness Act implements the prohibition imposed by the Equal Pay Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act helps in the elimination of gender-based wage disputes. This Act assures that each employer should follow the law regarding equal pay for both men and women.

Opinions for and against Paycheck Fairness Act

What supporters say What opponents say
According to Senator Barbara Mikulski, “Equal pay is not just for our pocketbooks, it’s about family checkbooks and getting it right in the law books. The Paycheck Fairness Act ensures that women will no longer be fighting on their own for equal pay for equal work.” In the words of Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA5), the highest-ranking woman in Republican leadership, “Many ladies I know feel like they are being used as pawns and find it condescending that Democrats are trying to use this issue as a political distraction from the failures of their economic policies.”

See also: February law update: Equal pay for women and federal regulators’ power clipped

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