This vote was on sending a pay equality bill back to the Education and Labor Committee to add language stating that employers found liable of pay discrimination would not have to compensate more than $2,000 per hour in lawyers fees in court cases. This "motion to recommit" was offered to a bill that would make it easier for workers to challenge wage discrimination.
Tom Price, R-Ga., who offered the motion, said the bill is a "boondoggle for trial lawyers" and that this motion would help prevent them from collecting "unlimited damages."
"That’s why this motion is a simple, commonsense change that caps reasonable, reasonable attorney’s fees at $2,000 per hour. Now, surely we can agree on that," Price said. "This cap on attorneys’ fees will ensure that victims of discrimination are protected with appropriate incentives. Without a cap, this bill will have a detrimental effect on labor markets. Increasing lawsuits and unlimited damages will discourage hiring and may further segregate employment preferences for one gender in favor of another."
George Miller, D-Calif., called the motion "a little bit unbelievable" and suggested it was too vague.
"It suggests that we should be setting the attorneys’ fees, even though the amount that the gentleman is asking us to set far exceeds what would be ordinary hourly wages fees in these kinds of cases across the Nation. At the same time, it makes no differentiation for geography, complication of cases, number of attorneys necessary in a case or even the number of firms that may be. We don’t know if this applies to all of the attorneys in the case with multiple plaintiffs; whether this applies across the firm if multiple attorneys in a firm are on a single case if it’s a complicated case and, in many cases, these are very complicated cases because they go in to business practices that are disguised in terms of trying to justify unequal pay in the name of equal pay," Miller said.
By a vote of 178-240, the motion was rejected. All but one Republican present voted for the motion (Tim Johnson of Illinois). Of Democrats present, all but nine voted against the motion. The end result is that a motion that would have sent the bill back to committee to establish caps on lawyer fees associated with wage discrimination cases was defeated.