Stefanik Introduces WAGE Equity Act with 48 Cosponsors
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik introduced the WAGE Equity Act, which closes the wage gap between women and men while prioritizing employees and businesses over trial lawyers. The 48 cosponsors represent geographic and ideologically diverse parts of the GOP Conference. The WAGE Equity Act is modeled after bipartisan legislation that Republican governors have signed into law that focus on closing the wage gap.
“Of the 2.8 million jobs created in the past year, 58% have gone to women,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “Increasingly, women are their family’s primary breadwinners, and we simply cannot ignore the fact that women are traditionally paid less than men. The WAGE Equity Act is a prime example of Republicans leading on women’s empowerment, and is a stark contrast to the Democrat’s legislation which prioritizes trial lawyers over employees and businesses. I urge my Democrat colleagues to consider this legislation as a practical alternative that strengthens equal pay for equal work without the unnecessary frivolous lawsuits and burdens on businesses.”
The WAGE Equity Act does the following:
- Empowers employees to utilize flexible work arrangements, which are increasingly necessary in the 21st century.
- Creates a “Self-Audit” system that would incentivize businesses to rectify pay disparity proactively.
- Protects an individual’s ability to negotiate employment based upon merit while also offering the flexibility to voluntarily disclose prior salary history.
- Protects employers’ ability to ensure negotiations in good faith by explicitly protecting the employer’s ability to have a salary expectation conversation and allowing the employer to act on salary history if it is voluntarily offered during interview process.
- Protects employee ability to discuss compensation with their colleagues while giving employers the right to set reasonable limitations on the time, location, and manner of this activity.
- Authorizes a grant program for targeted negotiation education for women in college and career/tech programs.
- Instructs GAO to conduct a study on the causes and impacts of the “manager’s gap” which is the time when many women leave the workforce for parental reasons and has been shown to be a significant cause of pay inequity.
- Is reflective of the modern workforce and supports the empowerment of women in today’s economy.
In Contrast, the Democrat proposal misses the mark with the following provisions:
- Requires the EEOC, for the first time, to collect compensation data from employers disaggregated by the sex, race, and national origin of employees, including hiring, termination, and promotion data. This would be action that could impose compliance costs of $700 million annually.
- Expands class action lawsuits by deeming all potential class members to be plaintiffs, requiring those who may not wish to pursue a claim to affirmatively opt-out.
- Opens claims to unlimited compensatory or punitive damages, even if there is no finding of intentional discrimination.
- Establishes a higher burden on employers to prove that “a factor other than sex” is a “bona fide factor other than sex” which would only apply if the employer can show a “business necessity” for the disparity.
Watch Congresswoman Stefanik speak on the House Floor in support of the WAGE Equity Act today here and below.