As reported in the Daily Journal (subscription), on Wednesday March 27, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new bill called the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, aimed at giving mistreated employees more effective tools to assert their rights by expanding sex discrimination class actions, damages assessments therein, and company reporting requirements.
The Paycheck Fairness Act specifically adds procedural protections to the Equal Pay Act, a portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act established in 1963 as a part of an effort to address the mid-century gender pay gap in the U.S. According to the Daily Journal, The 2019 Paycheck Fairness act “changes viable defenses for pay disparities from ‘any factor other than sex’ to ‘bona fide factors’ such as education, training, or experience. It also creates liability for punitive damages and compensatory damages, and states sex discrimination cases can be brought as opt-out class actions, adding plaintiffs without affirmative consent”.
Commenting on the bill’s passing, Lieff Cabraser partner Kelly M. Dermody told the Daily Journal that the bill “closes some loopholes for interpretation that otherwise could be misused to impede equal pay efforts.”
“The bill makes clear that pay differences must be based on legitimate factors, such as prior education or experience, and not based on illegitimate ones, such as prior pay at another employer. It also makes clear that employers must be prepared to justify the pay gaps of workers across different job sites,” Dermody added.
The bill also has increased retaliation protections for employees discussing their pay with each other, bans employers from asking for prior pay in interviews, and directs that companies with more than 100 workers report more compensation, promotion, hiring, and firing data with reference to gender to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
About Kelly Dermody
The Chair of Lieff Cabraser’s employment practice group and Managing Partner of Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco office, Kelly M. Dermody specializes in class and collective actions on behalf of plaintiffs in employment and consumer cases, including gender discrimination cases against Google, Microsoft, and Goldman Sachs. Her additional case work includes wage suppression claims against technology, healthcare, and academic institutions; overtime and lost pay lawsuits for low-wage workers, I/T professionals, and foreign nationals working for American corporations; and ERISA claims that she has tried on behalf of employees and retirees for pension plan abuses.