Paycheck Fairness Act Blocked In Senate

Date: April 11, 2014

Move To End Debate Garners Only 53 Of The 60 Needed Votes

Senate Republicans blocked Democratic
legislation that would have exposed businesses to burdensome new regulations
and potential lawsuits in the name of closing the pay gap between men and
women. The Paycheck Fairness Act would have changed existing law such that when
pay discrimination is alleged, the burden is on the employer to prove that s/he
is not discriminating. In addition, it would raise the limits on punitive
damages. Bill opponents argue that the legislation would be a major payday for
trial lawyers. Other provisions would also punish employers for acting against
employees who shared wage information, create a grant program to train women to
negotiate for compensation more effectively, and require the Department of
Labor to counsel businesses on eliminating pay inequality. The Department of
Labor would also continue to collect wage data based on gender.

The legislation
needed the backing of 60 senators to advance, but secured the support of only
53 on Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to “no,”
in order to preserve his right to bring the legislation up again at a future
point.

What This Means For Small Business:

While the bill doesn’t alter existing exemptions for businesses with less than
$500,000 in annual revenue, it would create significant problems for those
above that threshold, and would create a significant disincentive for a small
business to expand over that level. Not only would the bill expose small
businesses to significantly more legal exposure, it would also impose intrusive
and expensive administrative requirements.

Further Reading:

The AP, the New York Times, McClatchy, The Hill and the Wall
Street Journal

all have coverage of the vote and the politics surrounding it.

This news article is intended to keep small business owners apprised of current events that may affect them. It does not necessarily reflect NFIB’s policy position on such issues.

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