The Fair Pay Act. What is it?
A law signed by Congress on January 29, 2009, that restored worker protections against pay discrimination. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act allows individuals who face pay discrimination to seek rectification under federal anti-discrimination laws. The law clarifies that discrimination based on age, religion, national origin, race, sex and disability will “accrue” every time the employee receives a paycheck that is deemed discriminatory. There has been enormous amount of media focus on the sex/gender portion of the act, however, it applies to all traditional protected categories.
The major provision of the Fair Pay Act prohibits wage discrimination based on sex, race, or national origin among employees for work in “equivalent jobs.” Equivalent jobs are those whose composite of skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions are equivalent in value, even if the jobs are dissimilar. So, just because an employee has more years in service he or she may still may not be considered as “skilled” as an employee with less years with the company.
The Act is a natural extension of the 1963 Equal Pay Act, which is limited to sex-based discrimination in the same jobs. For enforcement purposes, the Fair Pay Act allows class action lawsuits to be filed and provides for compensatory and punitive damages.