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September 22 2010

We Don't Need the Paycheck Fairness Act

Carrie L. Lukas

IWF's friend Christina Hoff Sommers has an oped in today's New York Times explaining why the Paycheck Fairness Act tries to solve a problem that doesn't exist, and would create new problems in the process. She writes:

The bill is based on the premise that the 1963 Equal Pay Act, which bans sex discrimination in the workplace, has failed; for proof, proponents point out that for every dollar men earn, women earn just 77 cents.

But that wage gap isn't necessarily the result of discrimination. On the contrary, there are lots of other reasons men might earn more than women, including differences in education, experience and job tenure.
When these factors are taken into account the gap narrows considerably - in some studies, to the point of vanishing. A recent survey found that young, childless, single urban women earn 8 percent more than their male counterparts, mostly because more of them earn college degrees. ...

The problem is that... the bill... would hold employers liable for the "lingering effects of past discrimination" - "pay disparities" that have been "spread and perpetuated through commerce." Under the bill, it's not enough for an employer to guard against intentional discrimination; it also has to police potentially discriminatory assumptions behind market-driven wage disparities that have nothing to do with sexism. ...

The Paycheck Fairness bill would set women against men, empower trial lawyers and activists, perpetuate falsehoods about the status of women in the workplace and create havoc in a precarious job market. It is 1970s-style gender-war feminism for a society that should be celebrating its success in substantially, if not yet completely, overcoming sex-based workplace discrimination.

This is an issue that IWF has written about before (for example, see here).  This legislation would take our economy in the wrong direction, redirecting more income toward litigation and discouraging business expansion. Let's hope Congress gives up on this wrongheaded idea.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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