House Democrats Press Equal-Pay Bill as Part of Economic Agenda

(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats are making a new push for legislation making it easier for workers to uncover and sue over pay discrimination, as part of their economic agenda ahead of the 2020 election.

The bill introduced Wednesday, known as the Paycheck Fairness Act, would protect employees from retaliation for discussing pay, limit defenses employers can make for paying some workers less, bar employers from basing pay on someone’s wage history, and prohibit employers from paying less because an employee works in a different office.

Bill sponsor Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut has introduced the measure in every Congress since 1997. She said it seeks to close gaps in the 1963 Equal Pay Act and enhance protections in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that President Barack Obama signed a decade ago as the first legislation enacted into law in his presidency. The Ledbetter law gives employees more time to file pay discrimination lawsuits.

“It’s really important to know this is part of a fuller agenda of paid sick leave and access to affordable childcare to make women in the workplace have the opportunities that we all should,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said at a news conference.

House Democrats see the equal-pay measure as a companion to a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, as part of their economic plan for the next election.

Also attending the news conference were House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and other Democrats including Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who is sponsoring it in her chamber.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.