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Paycheck Fairness Acts helps trial lawyers more than workers

June 17, 2012

y U.S. Chamber of Commerce,

The Senate vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), a bill that would unleash a swarm of lawsuits, stop businesses from adequately defending themselves, and give regulators the wrong tools to fight discrimination. In a Key Vote Letter to Senators, Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President for Government Affairs writes,

[The PFA would] significantly erode the defenses available to employers under the EPA. For example, the bill would permit plaintiffs to challenge otherwise legitimate employer pay decisions by showing that some other employment practice might achieve the same business purpose without creating the disparity. Further, the employment decision in question must also be proven to be required by “business necessity.” These provisions would open up compensation and employment decisions to limitless review by courts and juries and would ultimately lead to an inefficient, cumbersome, and costly salary-setting process. In addition, the bill would modify existing rules concerning collective actions, making it easier for plaintiffs’ attorneys to mount class action suits.

In addition, the bill would make a number of regulatory changes at the Labor Department related to equal employment opportunity requirements for federal contractors. Re-imposing the flawed Equal Opportunity Survey and requiring use of dubious statistical models for determining whether employers engage in systematic compensation discrimination, would do nothing to combat discrimination and instead would waste both enforcement and employer resources.

The Wall Street Journal calls the PFA, the “Trial Lawyer Paycheck Act” because,

The law automatically lists women as plaintiffs in class actions when lawyers sue employers, thereby requiring female employees to opt-out of litigation with which they don’t agree. Businesses would be treated as guilty until shown to be innocent, having to prove in court that their pay practices aren’t the result of workplace bias. The legislation contains no caps on damage awards, allowing plaintiffs to claim unlimited punitive damages even in cases of unintentional discrimination.

The U.S. Chamber strongly supports equal employment opportunity and appropriate enforcement of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but Josten concludes in his letter to Senators, “Further increasing the opportunity for frivolous litigation will only further serve to undermine our nation’s civil rights laws.”

  
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