Employers can breathe a little easier. The Paycheck Fairness Act — which one labor attorney said had “the potential to cripple companies, particularly smaller businesses” — has been scuttled.
Supporters of the bill fell two votes short of the 60 required to move the measure forward in the Senate. The final vote was 58-41.
The legislation had been approved by the House of Representatives.
As outlined in a previous HRMorning post, the PFA would have:
- made employers liable for unlimited punitive damages under the FLSA for even unintentional pay disparities
- repealed a requirement that employees must give their written consent to become a party in an Equal Pay Act lawsuit, thus paving the way for more class action suits against employers, and
- restricted an employer’s flexibility to compensate employees based on such factors as cost-of-living differences among geographic locations, different work responsibilities within similar job categories or prior salary history.
The proposal drew a lot of fire from business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. During hearings last March, one labor attorney said the PFA “has the potential to cripple companies, particularly smaller businesses.”
End of the line
The Senate vote’s probably the death knell for the PFA, observers say. The soonest it’s likely to come up again is before the 112th Congress, which convenes next January.
That Congress will see the swearing-in of six new Republican senators — further reducing Democrats’ chances of gathering the 60 votes necessary to move the bill to a final vote.