It was recently announced that Governor Rick Perry vetoed a new law that could have aided women in the fight to achieve equal pay within the workplace. The measure before him would have mirrored a federal law that gives women easier access to the legal system in the event that they are unfairly compensated within the workplace by acts of discrimination. In ending the bill, Perry made a statement that the decision could have the effect of resulting in more lawsuits and increased regulations.
Supporters of the measure, including Senfronia Thompson, the bill's author, will likely be disappointed by the news. The bill was intended to make it easier for women to pursue legal action when they feel that they were discriminated against. Specifically, the bill would have allowed a woman to file suit within 180 days of receipt of the paycheck in question. As it stands currently, Texas law requires that a suit be filed within 180 days of the decision made by the employer concerning compensation, which is a considerably shorter window of opportunity.
Because of the delay between actually earning a given salary and receiving that income in the form of a paycheck, a large portion of the 180 day timeframe can be lost to payroll processing. In addition, many women are not readily aware of the pay scale offered to other employees within the workplace. It is possible that a female worker may discover that a male coworker in a similar or lesser position is receiving more pay outside of the 180 day window.
With news of the vetoed bill, Texas women may have been denied state support in the fight against discrimination. However, they remain able to access the federal law that the bill was modeled after. Known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the law was put into place in 2009. With statistics continuing to suggest that women are paid approximately 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man in the same position, this fight is far from over.
Source: dallasnews.com, "Texas Gov. Rick Perry vetoes bill helping women sue for equal pay," Robert T. Garrett, June 14, 2013