On July 31, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would amend the Equal Pay Act to enhance remedies for disparities in pay for women and men performing the same jobs. Similar legislation is currently pending in the Senate. Currently the Equal Pay Act specifies that an employer found in violation is liable only for fixed amounts, such as differentials for back pay. The Paycheck Fairness Act would make compensatory and punitive damages available as remedies in Equal Pay Act cases. The Paycheck Fairness Act would also tighten an employer’s “affirmative defense." Under the Equal Pay Act, when an employer is paying female employees less than male employees for equal work, the employer may assert an “affirmative defense” that the pay differential is based on a factor other than gender. The Paycheck Fairness Act will allow the “affirmative defense” only where the employer can show that the differential in pay for men and women in the same job is really because of factors related to performance or responsibility.
The White House has announced that the President is expected to veto the House bill.