April 15, 2021

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Votes to Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act

Washington, D.C. –Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) today voted to pass H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness?Act, to strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963, eliminate the gender wage gap, and ensure that women can challenge pay discrimination and hold employers accountable.

This bill closes loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act that have allowed employers to pay men and women unequally. Under this legislation, employers will be required to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons. It will ban retaliation against workers who discuss their wages and provide assistance to all businesses to help them implement equal pay practices. 

It is unjust and unacceptable that nearly six decades after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, women are earning 82 cents, on average, for every dollar a man earns,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Closing the pay gap is more than just a women’s issue – it’s also an issue of racial and economic justice. Black and Indigenous women earn on average less than 64 cents to every dollar paid to a white man, Hispanic women are paid at an average of 55 cents to every dollar, and for Asian American and Pacific Islander women that value is even lower—they are paid as little as 52 cents to every dollar.

“As we fight a pandemic and economic crisis that has hit women, and especially women of color the hardest, it is more important than ever that we work to close the pay gap. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act is a critical step that will help ensure equal pay and cut poverty in half for all working women.”  

The bill includes specific provisions that will strengthen the 1963 Equal Pay Act and the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In addition to those outlined above, such provisions include:  

  • Ensuring that women can receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are available to those subjected to discrimination based on race and national origin 
  • Removes obstacles in the Equal Pay Act to facilitate a wronged worker’s participation in class action lawsuits challenging pay discrimination 
  • Makes improvements in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s and the Department of Labor’s tools for enforcing the Equal Pay Act 
  • Prohibits employers from seeking salary history in determining future pay