The U.S House of Representatives has passed the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2008 by a 247-178 vote.

The U.S House of Representatives has passed the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2008 by a 247-178 vote. The bill will now head to Senate under a threat of veto by President Bush. The measure (HR1338) which was supported by the AFL-CIO, women’s groups and the ACLU, while many employer and business groups voiced their concern over the measure’s impact on the economy. The bill will most notably lift any cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded to female employees who sue and prevail alleging wage discrimination. Furthermore, the bill makes it easier for women who feel that they are being discriminated against by being paid less than male co-workers. The measure also would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers. Proponents of the bill claim that the Act would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and expand available damages. They specially point to study by the Census Bureau in 2006 which stated that women make about 77 percent as much as men do and that minority women are even worse off. According to the study African American women make 66 cents on the dollar compared to the highest earners (white men), while Hispanic women make only 55 cents. Opponents claim that the Act would oblige the government to adopt “junk science” by requiring use of flawed surveys and studies and that the only winners would be trial lawyers who can now demand high punitive damages. Obviously if this bill becomes law it will be applied as a federal law. This Act was in part in response to Lilly Ledbetter’s case against Goodyear. Lilly who had worked for Goodyear for 19 years sued when she discovered she was being paid much less than every single one doing the same work she was. Although she was awarded $3,000,000 in punitive damages, the judge had cut the award to $300,000 citing 1991 law that limited a company’s liability for damages.

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