Congress Proposes Impactful Wage-Related Changes 

Congress has recently proposed several wage-related changes to federal labor and employment law that, if adopted, would have a significant impact on employers.

Introduced on March 14, 2023, the “Pay Equity for All Act of 2023” would prohibit certain practices by employers relating to restrictions on the discussion of employees’ and prospective employees’ salary and benefit history. Specifically, the proposed legislation prohibits employers from (1) relying on the wage history of a prospective employee in considering the prospective employee for employment, (2) relying on the wage history of a prospective employee in determining the wages for such prospective employee, and (3) seeking from a prospective employee or any current or former employer the wage history of the prospective employee.

Also introduced on March 14, 2023, the “Fair Pay Act of 2023” would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin, and for other purposes. Asserting that wage rate differentials exist between equivalent jobs segregated by sex, race, and national origin in both public and private employment, the act disallows employers from discriminating between employees on the basis of sex, race, or national origin in the payment of wages for work on equivalent jobs, as well as in any other terms, conditions, privileges, or benefits of employment.

Similar to the Fair Pay Act of 2023, the “Paycheck Fairness Act” would amend the FLSA to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex. “Sex” in this context would include pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, sexual orientation or gender identity, and sex characteristics, including intersex traits. Enhanced penalties for violating employers would include liability for compensatory damages, or, where the employee demonstrates that the employer acted with malice or reckless indifference, punitive damages as may be appropriate.

We will update you on these proposed bills as they make their way through the legislative process.