Yesterday, Senators Snowe and Collins voted with other Republicans in the U.S. Senate to prevent an up-or-down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, effectively blocking it for now. The Paycheck Fairness Act would make it more difficult for employers to pay women less than men for the same work. It would, among other things, require employers who pay women less than men for the same work to prove that the pay disparity is based on things like education or qualifications. It would also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages with one another, taking away a prime method employers utilize to hide pay discrimination from women.
Laws that have been on the books for decades have not solved the problem of pay discrimination. Women still earn significantly less than men. The Paycheck Fairness Act is designed to enhance current laws to make them more effective.
“I support equal pay for equal work,” Senator Collins said in a statement. “I remain concerned that this particular legislation would unnecessarily expose the small business community to excessive litigation, and impose increased costs and restrictions on businesses that are already struggling to create and maintain jobs in this difficult economic environment.” This is the same argument that the business community raises whenever enhancements to employment discrimination laws are being debated. Collins’ concern that this new law would result in “excessive litigation” is based on pure speculation. One does not have to speculate, however, to see that women who are “struggling” in this “difficult economic environment” deserve more protection from pay discrimination.