For decades on end, woman have been fighting for their equality to be recognized, in one form or another, within the workforce. Former President John F. Kennedy endorsed it – President Barack Obama ensues to enforce it. The Equal Pay Act, signed by Kennedy in June 1963, was the latest attempt to put an end to gender discrimination pertaining to unequal wages earned by women versus men who are employed in identical positions that are of equal job content. President Obama sponsors John F. Kennedy’s Equal Pay Act (or EPA) for gender wage equality with the Paycheck Fairness Act (or PFA), a legislation to end the approximate 77% difference in compensated wages earned by women when compared to that of men. This bill was approved in January 2009 by the House of Representatives, however, the United States Senate fell short of 2 votes for the 60 votes needed in order to move the bill forward. The bill was presented again for a second time in June 2012. Consequently, the United States Senate only acquired 52 votes in favor of proceeding the bill to its final consideration. Why?
Republican Senators, of whom comprise the small minority of congressional voters opposing the PFA, believe that the bill could adversely affect small businesses by making it easier for female employees to file litigation suits in regards to wage discrimination. Ironically, out of the number of Republican Senators who blocked the bill, five of them were women: Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Senator Susan Collins, also of Maine.
In a statement made by Senate Republican Susan Collins on June 5, 2012, she believes the existing workforce laws are already sufficient: “We already have on the books the Equal Pay Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Lilly Ledbetter Act in which I support, and I believe that they provide adequate protections. I think this bill would impose a real burden, particularly on small businesses.” In a similar statement made by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky supporting Collins’ viewpoint, McConnell states “We don’t think America suffers from a lack of litigation.” In another statement made by Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, he makes it clear that he does not support pay discrimination within the workforce based on gender, but instead focuses on the issue of workforce inequality in itself: “The question is, will the Paycheck Fairness Act actually address workplace inequality? And the simple answer is no.”
The Paycheck Fairness Act, in comparison to the Equal Pay Act, would provide remedies for the loopholes found within the act signed by former President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The bill would require wages to be paid based on education, training, and/or experience, not sex-based. This bill would also protect employees from retribution from their employers should they happen to discuss their wages for the purposes of evaluating whether or not a gender differential exists. Although American women have come a long way when it comes to putting an end to being shortchanged within their professions, it is still evident that women will have to continue fight even harder for their right to be heard and understood. As the old cliché goes: “Men work from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done.”
©2013 Learus Ohnine