Fighting for Women's Equality

Equal Rights Advocates Continues the Fight for the Women of Wal-Mart as Senate Republicans Shoot Down Consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act

June 5, 2012 | by

Senate Republicans blocked consideration today of the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), by a vote of 52-47, just a week after House Republicans also voted down the bill. The PFA would have strengthened existing pay equity laws by prohibiting retaliation against workers who discuss wages with their co-workers and by filling other gaps in the Equal Pay Act. “Congress has sent a loud and clear message today that it will not fix practices that have caused a gender wage gap in nearly every profession in this country. This complacency makes the continued fight by female retail workers in Dukes v. Wal-Mart as important today as it was when the case was filed over a decade ago,” stated Noreen Farrell, Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates (ERA). ERA represents the plaintiffs in Dukes v. Wal-Mart along with The Impact Fund, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and Davis, Cowell & Bowe LLP. It has been almost one year since the Supreme Court handed down its decision on class certification in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes. Though the Court rejected a nationwide class in the case, the Dukes plaintiffs filed an amended action on behalf of current and former Wal-Mart employees in California. A similar state-focused suit has been filed on behalf of women workers at Wal-Mart from Texas and others are being developed across the country. This Friday, June 8, 2012, a United States District Court judge in the Northern District of California will consider a motion by Wal-Mart to dismiss the amended complaint filed by plaintiffs in Dukes v. Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart challenges the narrower class action on the grounds that it is precluded by the Supreme Court decision. Plaintiffs strongly reject this argument: “It is about time that Wal-Mart allows these women their day in court. The company can dodge adjudication on the merits of their claims for only so long,” stated Noreen Farrell of Equal Rights Advocates. The PFA would have eradicated pay secrecy policies faced by the plaintiffs in the Wal-Mart case and other low-wage workers. These policies prevent employees from gaining information necessary to enforce their rights. “We are disappointed that Congress failed to seize the great opportunity offered by the PFA. Equal Rights Advocates remains poised for continued and future efforts to achieve wage justice for working women,” stated ERA staff attorney Jamie Dolkas. Equal Rights Advocates Advice & Counseling Hotline: 1-800-839-4372

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