Foxx: The Paycheck Fairness Act is not a win for women in the slightest
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 15, 2021
Today, Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (R-NC) spoke in opposition to H.R. 7, Democrats’ so-called Paycheck Fairness Act, which offers no new protections against pay discrimination and rewards trial lawyers with limitless paydays at the expense of working women.
On the House floor today, Foxx delivered the following remarks:
“We all agree on the fundamental principle of this bill: Women should not be paid less than men for the same work. That is not up for debate and for me it has never been up for debate and for our country it hasn’t been since 1963 when the Equal Pay Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act, making equal pay the law of the land. Moreover, in 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act codified non-discrimination rules for employment making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.
“The question before us today is whether the Democrats’ Paycheck Fairness Act provides any additional protections to women in the workplace. The answer is a resounding no.
“The United States has some of the most varied and complex workplaces in the world. Before the onslaught of COVID-19, women were earning merited paychecks in record numbers.
“According to a Harvard University analysis and numerous other studies, the difference in earning between men and women comes down to choices made regarding careers and parenting.
“Many working women take advantage of flexible work schedules to meet their diverse needs. A survey by Pew found 70 percent of working mothers say a flexible schedule is extremely important.
“Democrats aren’t giving the full story when they talk about pay differences. Women are making career choices that are best for themselves and their families. Limiting their freedom to do so is wrong. Congress has no place in telling women their career choices are wrong. Yet, Democrats are hellbent on telling all Americans how to live their lives, how to spend their money, and now how to make career decisions.
“The Paycheck Fairness Act is not a win for women in the slightest. It is a false promise that creates opportunities and advantages only for trial lawyers looking for easy payouts while causing irreparable harm to employers.
“By making it much easier to bring lawsuits of questionable validity against employers, trial lawyers will be able to force employers into settlements or try for unlimited paydays from jury awards, lining their own pockets and dragging women through tedious, never-ending legal proceedings.
“In the United States, we believe in innocence until proven guilty. But this bill assumes otherwise. Under current law, business owners can defend themselves from a claim of pay discrimination by proving that a pay differential is based on legitimate, business-related factors other than sex. H.R. 7 would radically alter this law, requiring that a business owner convince a judge or jury that the pay differential was required by ‘business necessity.’ This is a nearly impossible burden of proof to meet that will lead to unfair judgments against business owners because the plain meaning of the term ‘business necessity’ is that the pay differential must be absolutely essential to the business.
“H.R. 7 would also result in a flood of litigation in front of judges and juries who will delve into employer compensation decisions, even when the employer can demonstrate that those decisions are based on legitimate, business-related reasons having nothing to do with the sex of the employee.
“Fearing big government and liability risks that could leave them bankrupt, many business owners will likely implement rigid pay bands – a model used by government and unionized businesses. This means workers will not be compensated on the basis of merit. This is the opposite of the American Dream. As one columnist wrote, ‘equality of opportunity—not outcomes—is the American ideal.’
“On top of the legal jeopardy this bill creates for employers, H.R. 7 also mandates that business owners submit mountains of worker pay data to the federal government. This will pose significant threats to the confidentiality and privacy of workers’ pay data, create a data stash which would be impossible to protect or interpret, and cost business owners more than $600 million annually.
“This bill purports to champion equality for women, yet it disregards the 40 percent of small businesses owned by women that will be forced to implement pay policies found in government-run workplaces and be stuck paying through the nose in compliance costs if this bill passes.
“Even worse, H.R. 7 will severely limit workplace flexibility for women. Many working women take advantage of flexible work schedules to meet their diverse needs, yet this harmful legislation completely ignores this reality and threatens to take away the choices and freedom necessary for them to retain employment.
“We know employees prefer workable and flexible schedules, and now is not the time to limit these options for women who have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Should my Democrat colleagues wish to discuss additional policies which will foster the advancement of women in the workplace, we can consider legislation that safely reopens our schools and businesses, provides the flexibility and support to expand work-based learning programs and create viable pathways that enable more individuals to reskill and build fulfilling careers on their own terms, and promotes career and technical education, to name a few.
“Unfortunately, my Democrat colleagues would rather impose radical and unworkable policy, under the guise of ‘progress,’ than find bipartisan solutions which foster environments where individuals are empowered to succeed and make the decisions that are best for them.”