Equal Pay Enforcement Act

Walker Rolled Back Provisions Of Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act; Law Allowed Individuals To Plead Their Cases In The State Circuit Court Rather Than In Federal Court. According to the Huffington Post, “A Wisconsin law that made it easier for victims of wage discrimination to have their day in court was repealed on Thursday, after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed the bill. The 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act was meant to deter employers from discriminating against certain groups by giving workers more avenues via which to press charges. Among other provisions, it allows individuals to plead their cases in the less costly, more accessible state circuit court system, rather than just in federal court. In November, the state Senate approved SB 202, which rolled back this provision. On February, the Assembly did the same. Both were party-line votes in Republican-controlled chambers. SB 202 was sent to Walker on March 29. He had, according to the state constitution, six days to act on the bill. The deadline was 5:00 p.m. on Thursday. The governor quietly signed the bill into law on Thursday, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau, and it is now called Act 219.” [Huffington Post, 4/16/12]

Walker Said The Equal Pay Enforcement Act Had Been Nothing But A Boon For Trial Lawyers And That “Lawyers Could Clog Up The Legal System.” According to the Huffington Post, “Walker defended the repeal in an interview Tuesday with WLUK-TV, saying the Equal Pay Enforcement Act had essentially been nothing but a boon for trial lawyers. His comments came on Equal Pay Day 2012, the day when a typical woman’s earnings catch the pay of male counterparts in 2011. ‘In the past, lawyers could clog up the legal system,’ Walker said. ‘Instead, the state Department of Workforce Development gets to be the one that ultimately can put people back and give them up to two years back pay if there is reason to believe there was pay discrimination in the workforce.’” [Huffington Post, 4/18/12]

Walker Signed Legislation That Put Limits On Attorney’s Fees Victims Could Recover In Equal Pay Lawsuits. According to the International Business Times, “The law approved by Walker removes the ability for victims of wage discrimination to go to court for compensatory and punitive damages, although they still have the ability to seek back pay. Hynes noted that Walker previously signed legislation that puts a limit on the amount of attorney’s fees victims can recover in lawsuits, making it even less likely that wronged employees will take their cases to court.” [International Business Times, 4/9/12]

Walker Called Wisconsin’s Workplace Anti-Discrimination Law ‘Kind Of A Gravy Train’ For Lawyers. According to Politifact, “Walker said a law that allowed workplace discrimination lawsuits to be filed in state court, which he and the Legislature repealed, was ‘kind of a gravy train’ for lawyers. His statement contains some element of truth, in that the old law gave another legal option to lawyers who represent workers claiming discrimination. But Walker’s claim ignores critical facts — or, put another way, lacks critical facts — that would support his claim of a big financial gain for lawyers. After all, not a single lawsuit was filed in state court since the law took effect. We rate Walker’s statement Mostly False.” [Politifact, 4/10/12]