congressThe Paycheck Fairness Act, currently being considered in Congress as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), has been the subject of much debate. At the center of the debate is the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that strongly opposes the bill. It has attempted to mobilize its members in campaigns against the bill. In summary, the bill would:

• Expand damages under the Equal Pay Act to become virtually unlimited regarding both compensatory and punitive awards.

• Require employers to show any wage discrepancies were caused by a factor other than the sex of an employee and that any factor is consistent with the job and business in question.

• Include anti-retaliation provisions in the FLSA in order to protect employees who make complaints, file charges, or aid in the investigation of a matter involving unfair wages.

• Do away with the requirement stating that employees must work in the same establishment for the purposes of wage comparison.

• Reinstitute the Equal Opportunity Survey which allows the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to gather employment information from federal contractors related to a contractor’s affirmative action program, personnel activity, and compensation.

Some of the possible negative effects of the proposed amendment could include:

• The prohibiting, by the PFA, of employers from using otherwise legitimate factors when determining appropriate compensation for employees. The bill would limit these decisions to only production, merit, and seniority and disallow considerations such as education, experience, training, employer need, and profitability.

• The PFA would allow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to collect compensation data that is otherwise confidential.

• The PFA would encourage individual employees to publicize the wages of coworkers with no chance of retaliation from his or her employer.

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