House to Consider Pay Equity Bill Next Week

April 09, 2021

The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7), a gender pay equity bill that would significantly impact employer compensation policies in the face of increased litigation, is scheduled for a House floor vote next week.  In anticipation of the vote, the Association hosted a webinar offering a deep dive into what employers should know about the bill.

Association staff were joined by Johnna Torsone, Chair of the Future Workplace Policy Council and Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Pitney Bowes, Inc. to discuss the most consequential aspects of the bill, including:

  • Significant limitations on employer defenses to gender pay discrimination lawsuits;

  • Prohibitions on salary history inquiries, including relying on salary history in determining a prospective employee’s salary, and limitations on salary expectations conversations;

  • Prohibitions on retaliating against employees who discuss their wages with other employees;

  • Enhanced penalties for violations and facilitation of increased class action litigation; and

  • New pay data reporting obligations.

Also discussed was a safe harbor approach providing employers conducting internal audits of their pay practices protections against liability.  Such a safe harbor is not currently included in the Paycheck Fairness Act but does exist on the state level and in competing pay equity legislation—the Wage Equity Act, expected to be re-introduced by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

In addition to the webinar, the Association has also been offering a series of daily emails providing a quick overview of each of the significant provisions of the bill.  Each of these briefs can be found here.

Outlook:  With 225 cosponsors, it is almost certain that the Paycheck Fairness Act will pass the House.  Assuming the filibuster remains in place, its chances in the Senate will depend on the willingness of a sufficient number of Republicans to vote against allowing the bill to proceed.  A recording of the webinar can be found here.