Smucker Cosponsors Bill for Wage Fairness
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) helped introduce the WAGE Equity Act, the Republican alternative to the Paycheck Fairness Act. U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced the legislation Tuesday afternoon. Smucker is an original cosponsor.
“From families, to education and to the workforce, women play pivotal roles in our country and it’s important they’re paid fairly,” Smucker said. “I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of Rep. Stefanik’s legislation to help achieve wage equity and encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support it.”
As of 2019, nearly 75 million women are working in the United States, the highest number in history. Over half of the 2.8 million jobs created last year went to women, with many women increasingly becoming families’ primary breadwinners. Women are also attending college at a higher rate than their male counterparts, receiving 56 percent of degrees conferred last year.
“Of the 2.8 million jobs created in the past year, 58% have gone to women,” said Rep. Stefanik. “Increasingly, women are their family’s primary breadwinners, and we simply cannot ignore the fact that women are traditionally paid less than men. The WAGE Equity Act is an actionable rebuttal to the Democrat’s proposal, which goes too far and prioritizes trial lawyers over employees and businesses. I urge my Democrat colleagues to consider this legislation as a practical alternative that achieves the same ends without the unnecessary means.”
The WAGE Equity Act:
- Protects employers offering flexible work arrangements from liability.
- Creates a system that would allow business to rectify pay disparity proactively. This system would also provide a defense to liability for the employer in the event of a lawsuit.
- Protects an individual’s ability to negotiate employment based upon merit while also offering the flexibility to disclose prior salary history.
- Protects employers’ ability to ensure negotiations in good faith by explicitly protecting the employer’s ability to have a salary expectation conversation and allowing the employer to act on salary history if it is offered during interview process.
- Protects employee ability to discuss compensation with their colleagues while giving employers the right to set reasonable limitations on the time, location and manner of this activity.
- Authorizes a grant program for targeted negotiation education for women in college and career/technical programs.
- Instructs GAO to conduct a study on the causes and impacts of the “manager’s gap” which is the time when many women leave the workforce for parental reasons and has been shown to be a significant cause of pay inequity.
In contrast, the Democrat proposal does the following:
- Requires the EEOC, for the first time, to collect compensation data from employers disaggregated by the sex, race, and national origin of employees, including hiring, termination, and promotion data. This would be action that could impose compliance costs of $700 million annually.
- Establishes a higher burden on employers to prove that “a factor other than sex” is a “bona fide factor other than sex” which would only apply if the employer can show a “business necessity” for the disparity.
- Expands class action lawsuits by deeming all potential class members to be plaintiffs, requiring those who may not wish to pursue a claim to affirmatively opt-out.
- Opens claims to unlimited compensatory or punitive damages, even if there is no finding of intentional discrimination.
Groups opposing the Democrat proposal include the National Taxpayers Union, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., the National Restaurant Association, Retail Leaders Industry Association, the Society for Human Resource Management and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
The WAGE Equity Act is cosponsored by 48 Republicans, including Smucker.