Equal Pay Act, Fair Pay Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act

The US Congress is discussing two bills that may have a large impact on our entire population and many employers throughout the country.  The Fair Pay Act is a legislative effort by the House to overcome a 2007 Supreme Court decision applying a 180 day statute of limitations to claims under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 or discrimination in payment. 

The Fair Pay Act is an effort by the House to try and extend the statute of limitations over past pay discrimination.  The bill is believed to be needed due to the difficulty or lag in discovering the pay disparities that form the basis of an Equal Pay Act or payment discrimination claims.  However, there is a discovery rule that is often applied to statutes of limitations by Illinois courts that allows an individual to bring a claim even though the claim would be otherwise barred. 

It’s not clear, if there has been an attempt to apply the discovery rule to the 180 day statute of limitations for Equal Pay Act or payment discrimination claims or if state agencies, such as, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) would ever consider applying the discovery rule, but it may help alleviate some of the concerns behind the Fair Pay Act. 

The Paycheck Fairness Act is an effort to add more bite or strength to the Equal Pay Act of 1963.  The two bills have passed the US House of Representatives and seem to be poised for passage through the US Senate.  It will be interesting to see what impact this has on female employees, employers, and the government agencies that are responsible for investigating and enforcing these regulations.

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