Last June, we advised that the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would amend the Equal Pay Act, had fallen by the wayside. On April 12, 2011, the Act was reintroduced in the House to commemorate Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day is the day the bill’s supporters say that women have to work beyond 2010 and into 2011 in order to make the same amount that men made in 2010. The bill was also reintroduced in the house with 25 co-sponsors.
Just as a reminder, the bill if passed would, among other things, expand the damages that could be won under the Equal Pay Act to include compensatory and punitive damages. It would also limit the availability of the employer’s affirmative defenses and would eliminate opt-out class actions, making it easier to assert class-action claims.
At this time it is hard to predict whether the reintroduction will be more than a token attempt to spotlight the issue or if it will have the legs to get passed. Although it passed the House in 2009, the House was at that time controlled by Democrats who are the supporters of the bill. It will be interesting to see if the bill gains any traction in the coming weeks. We will keep you posted.