Obama Endorses Paycheck Fairness Act
July 23, 2010
WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to press Congress today to pass pay-equity legislation that would make it easier for women to sue employers who pay them less than their male counterparts, the White House said Monday.
“Women deserve equal pay,” White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said in an interview, citing government statistics that show women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn. “It’s a very fundamental right.”
Obama will announce his support for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that has languished in Congress for several years. In 2007, President Bush warned he would veto the bill, and it has been stalled by opposition from some Republicans and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The bill passed in the House in 2009, but did not get through the Senate. Its prospects there remain unclear.
“The bill is a cruel hoax. It won’t empower women who face pay discrimination, but it will empower trial lawyers whose junk lawsuits will clog up the courts and make it hard for businesses to grow and hire,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio.
The bill would:
• Put gender-based wage discrimination on par with other forms of wage discrimination, such as that based on race, by allowing women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages, rather than just for back pay.
• Limit the legitimate reasons employers can give in court for wage disparities.
• Prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages.