New hurdles in defending against pay-bias lawsuits may be coming soon to a workplace near you. The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed two pay discrimination bills—the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 11) and the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 12). Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is expected to introduce companion legislation in the Senate next week. Read the full text of both bills.
Similar legislation passed the House in early 2008 but failed to overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate. Even if last year’s bill had passed in the Senate, President Bush had vowed to veto it. A similar result is unlikely in an Obama White House.
The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which follows a controversial 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision (our subscribers can read more on the case here), gives employees more time to file pay discrimination lawsuits by restarting the clock on the statute of limitations with each paycheck. The Paycheck Fairness Act amends the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to clarify that plaintiffs alleging gender-based pay discrimination can seek both compensatory and punitive damages. In addition, it puts the burden on employers to prove that pay disparities are not gender-based, and prohibits retaliation against employees who raise pay discrimination complaints.
Take proactive measures, such as conducting a self-audit, to avoid pay bias lawsuits. Our exclusive Employer Guide, 50 Secrets for Preventing Employee Lawsuits, will help you you identify and correct areas that may need attention to reduce your risk of potential lawsuits.
If either or both bills are ultimately enacted, employers can expect a new rash of pay related litigation. Following the time-tested philosophy that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” the House’s vote is a good reminder that now is the right time to review your pay practices.
Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks
Many companies fail to keep up with the complex, ever-changing world of employment laws, regulations, and court cases. Even those with a fully staffed HR department often fail to conduct regular self-audits, which tend to get bumped by more immediately pressing matters.
Well, here’s the bad news: If you keep putting off your self-audit, you will almost certainly find yourself someday in the middle of a complex investigation or lawsuit—one that quickly takes center stage and which, sadly, could have been avoided or simplified with some basic preventive maintenance.
Our 50 Secrets for Preventing Employee Lawsuits Employer Guide pulls together—in an easy-to-follow format—all the important areas that should be reviewed at least annually by small and large employers alike. This informative Employer Guide also includes practical sample forms and policies you can tailor to your organization’s needs to help bring your company into compliance with the maze of legal requirements.