March 7, 2022 | Priya Elangovan

The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7) is a bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in June of 2021. The bill targets issues of equal pay and wage discrimination on the basis of sex, including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The bill will update and strengthen parts of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) signed into law by President Kennedy in 1963. When the EPA was signed into law, women overall made 59 cents to every dollar made by men. Today, more than 60 years later, women still only make 82 cents to the dollar for men.

The main provisions of the act: 

  • The bill makes it easier for employees suing for wage discrimination by putting a greater burden on employers to prove that pay differences are due solely to job-related factors (i.e. education, training, or job experience). It also allows employees suing for wage discrimination to compare wages between themselves and other employees working functionally similar jobs at different offices in the same county, not just within a single office 
  • The bill also prevents employers from retaliating against employees that take action on wage discrimation, as well as employees who disclose and discuss their own salary with coworkers for the purposes of determining pay disparity
  • The bill also prevents employers from asking prospective employees for information about their salary history and using that information to determine the offered salary
  • The bill also empowers the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (DOL) to enforce these provisions, as well as directing both departments to engage in research, data collection, education, and public outreach on compensation discrimination and related employment information (including data on the intersection of sex and race)
    • This includes funding for training employers on how salary negotiations can cause bias in compensation, and negotiation skills training for employees targeted to women and girls
    • There will also be resources created to help small businesses navigate and be in compliance with the new rules
  • The bill also creates a yearly award for National Pay Equity in the Workplace to be given to an employer each year in order to encourage companies to be proactive in addressing the gender pay gap and wage disparities

Possible Impacts of the Bill:

  • The National Partnership for Women and Families estimates that the gender pay gap costs women more than $900 billion per year in lost wages in the United States
  • A recent YWCA poll found that 54% of women are concerned that their family won’t be able to cover expenses and pay bills – closing the pay gap could go a long way to changing that
  • The Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that closing the gender pay gap would reduce women’s poverty in every state by 35-40%

How to take action:

  • Contact your Senators and share your thoughts on the bill. You can also ask them to move the bill forward to a vote 

Only 21% of America’s largest companies conduct an analysis of their gender pay gap – see if your employer does an analysis and encourage your employer to do one if they don’t