by Patricia A. Schaeffer, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs

David Cohen, President of DCI Consulting Group Inc., and Patricia Schaeffer, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs attended a hearing on April 12, 2007 conducted by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The hearing, which was entitled “Closing the Gap: Equal Pay for Women Workers” was on the proposed “Paycheck Fairness Act” (S. 766), which was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Hilliary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) on March 6, 2007.

A prior DCI client alert, which discusses the substance of these bills, is available here.

The April 12th hearing was co-chaired by Senator Clinton and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who introduced the “Fair Pay Act” (S. 1087) on April 11.

Hearing Witnesses:
Four witnesses testified at the hearing on the gender wage gap and specifically S. 766. Testifying in support of S. 766 were: Evelyn Murphy, Founder and President of the WAGE Project, Inc., Boston, MA; Jocelyn Samuels, Vice President for Education and Employment, National Women’s Law Center, Washington, DC; and Dr. Philip Cohen, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Only Barbara Brown, Attorney, Paul Hastings, Washington DC, testified in opposition to S. 766. (An analysis of their testimony will be issued in a future article).

The Fair Pay Act (S. 1087):
The text of S. 1087 has not been published as of this date. However, in a press release, Sen. Harkin described the bill as “addressing the historic pattern of undervaluing and underpaying so-called “women’s” jobs.” The proposed bill would:

  • Amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, race or national origin;

  • Require employers to provide equal pay for jobs that are comparable in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions,

  • Apply to each company individually and prohibit companies from reducing other employees’ wages to achieve pay equity;

  • Require public disclosure of employer job categories and their pay scales, without requiring specific information on individual employees;

  • Allow payment of different wages under a seniority system, merit system or system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; and

  • Allow employees who allege discrimination in wage-setting based on sex, race, or national origin to either file a complaint with the EEOC or go to court.

Similar pay equity legislation has been introduced for the past several years. The difference now is the significant change in the political landscape, which has permitted hearings on the longstanding gender wage gap and pay equity bills.

DCI is continuing to monitor these developments and will provide further updates as they become available.

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