Two previously rejected equal pay bills were reintroduced to Congress recently. And what’s happening on the state level in Texas may offer some key insight into the fate of those bills.
First, the Paycheck Fairness Act was brought back to Congress for reconsideration.
The bill, which builds on the Lilly Ledbetter Act and would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963, is back before Congress.
As it is currently worded, the Paycheck Fairness Act would — among other things — make companies liable for unlimited punitive damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – even for unintentional pay disparities, and repeal a requirement that workers give written consent to become part of an Equal Pay Act lawsuit.
Shortly after the Paycheck Fairness Act’s reintroduction, the Fair Pay Act landed in Congress. Like the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Fair Pay Act has been introduced and rejected on multiple occasions. One of the FPA’s main objections is to require employers to disclose their job categories and corresponding pay scales.
Texas: A key indicator
So what’s happening in Texas — and why does it matter on a national level?
Texas Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D) just proposed a bill that essentially mirrors the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, on the state level. In addition to Thompson’s bill, the Texas Senate introduced an identical bill a few weeks ago.
According to Patrick Dorrian of Bloomberg BNA’s Labor and Employment blog, the timing of Texas’s recent actions in the area of pay equity is significant.
Reason: The fact that Texas — a traditionally conservative state — is attempting to jump on board the pay equity bandwagon is evidence that support for equal pay laws is growing.
So laws like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Fair Pay Act may just make it through Congress this time around.
We’ll keep you posted on the status of these equal pay laws.