« Agility. The New Reward Watchword | Main | The 401(k) as Cost Reduction Target »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Thanks for posting this Ann. I'm for equal pay for equal work just like most people. But this concept of "comparable worth" or "work on equivalent jobs" needs to be fully vetted so the public knows what they're getting into. This concept was defeated in the 1970s before many of today's workforce was even born!


Thanks for the heads up. I agree, that the public (and our profession) needs to be educated on the difference between equal pay and comparable worth. That's the reason I linked this back to my earlier posting on comparable worth. Know any other good explanatory resources?

A brief description of the Fair Pay Act legislation appeared at the bottom of today's WorldatWork Public Policy Perceptions blog. I was not aware that this legislation has been submitted regularly in congress and regularly gets defeated. But in today's legislative climate, who knows if this legslation will get any further than it did in previous years.

I'd still suggest that compensation professionals learn more about the issue in case the legislation gets seriously considered in the future. IMHO, this legislation can fundamentally change how organizations make policy decisions on market vs internal job evaluation pay data.


The Public Policy Perceptions blog, while noting that it has been submitted and defeated before, also identifies these as "bills that bear watching". As you observe, this is particularly true given the legislative climate today.

And I agree that compensation professionals should take this opportunity to more deeply understand the issue at hand, because if the bills do move, they may do so in a manner that doesn't leave much time for our profession to get its act - and its response - together.

Thanks again for helping us keep up to speed on this.

I fear that common use of the terms "fair" and "pay" have confused some people as to what laws have passed this year and what are still under Congressional review.

Here is my understanding of the three equal pay laws that have been reviewed by Congress this year. They have similar names which can be somewhat confusing.

Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: This was passed in January 2009, and changed the statute of limitations on suing employers to within 180 days of a person receiving a pay check that may have been discriminatory.

Paycheck Fairness Act: This legislation was first proposed in 2005 by Senator Hillary Clinton, and used to have “comparable worth” in it. But in the latest version submitted to congress in January 2009, comparable worth was taken out. The law would (a) facilitate class-action lawsuits by repealing the requirement that employees must give their written consent to become a party in a gender discrimination class action; (b) remove any limits on the compensatory or punitive damages for which employers would be liable, in addition to back pay. Such damages would apply even to unintentional pay disparities; (c) prohibit certain defenses for pay disparities. For example, the bill would eliminate an employer’s ability to justify paying different salaries to workers based in different locations with different costs of living. (This last provision is subject to interpretation based on the awkward wording of the law.) My understanding is that this law is still in committee being worked on by Congress.

Harkin/Norton Fair Pay Act: This law was recently mentioned in the WorldatWork Public Policy Blog. It was only submitted at the end of April 2009, and most definitely changes “equal pay for equal work” to “equal pay for equivalent work.” Cara Welch reports in her blog that Eleanor Holmes Norton has submitted this legislation frequently during her term as a DC Representative, but it has never passed. But this year may be different – who knows!

The comments to this entry are closed.

About The Author

  • More Info Here
    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

Compensation Force Spot Survey

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Search This Site


  • Get this widget from Widgetbox