Jun 05, 2012 11:53 AM EDT
Gender Pay Equality Bill up for Senate Vote Today
A pay equity bill design to give women workers more tools to fight pay disparity with male counterparts is headed to the Senate for voting today. Democrats are pushing passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, designed to ensure equal pay in the workplace between men and women of equal qualification, despite expectations that Republicans will filibuster its passage, according to CNN.
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"Congress has to step up and do its job," President Obama told supporters of the bill on a conference call. "If Congress passes the Paycheck Fairness Act, women are going to have access to more tools to claim equal pay for equal work. If they don't, if Congress doesn't act, then women are still going to have difficulty enforcing and pressing for this basic principle."
Republicans are expected to block the bill when it comes up for a key procedural vote in the Senate Tuesday, citing concerns over unnecessary government involvement in private-sector pay practices.
Democrats maintain that the measure would make it easier for women to prove pay inequality and sue for damages. They said it would boost the economy because many women are underpaid and it's causing women to lose thousands of dollars over their lifetime.
The bill would require employers to prove pay inequality based on job performance, not gender, and would, for the first time, prevent employers from forbidding employees from sharing salary information with each other. The bill would also allow women to sue for back pay and punitive damages if they were to suffer pay discrimination.
Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who is being closely watched in an election fight against a woman, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, is one of the Republican senators Democrats hope to put in a difficult political position by pushing the pay legislation.
Unfettered, Brown's office said Monday he will vote against the measure.
"Sen. Brown believes strongly in fair pay, and that employers who discriminate against women should be prosecuted aggressively," said Marcie Kinzel, his Senate spokesperson. "However, on the bill before the Senate, Sen. Brown believes it will put more burdens on small businesses and could lead to job losses at a time when our economy can least afford it."