In a desperate effort to save his job as Senate majority leader, Harry Reid is bringing up the Paycheck Fairness Act for a vote. Trying to divert attention from the real issues that concern Americans, the left hopes that reviving this tired legislation will advance the idea of a conservative “War on Women” and earn them votes in November. Previous Congresses have rejected it, however, for good reason: the “Paycheck Fairness Act” would stifle job creation, send existing American jobs overseas, and burden employers with expensive paperwork and frivolous lawsuits.
The Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) in the following ways:
- Allows for unlimited compensatory and punitive damages to be granted, even without proof of intent to discriminate. Currently, an employer must be found to have intentionally engaged in discriminatory practices in order for an employee to receive monetary compensation, and even then, the employee is entitled only to back pay. The provision in the PFA is unacceptable and unnecessary, as damages are already available under Title VII for pay discrimination.
- Changes the “establishment” requirement. The EPA currently requires that employees whose pay is being compared must work in the same physical place of business. The PFA would amend the word “establishment” to mean workplaces in the same county or political district. It would also invite the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to develop “rules or guidance” to define the term more broadly. This leaves the door open for the EEOC to compare a woman’s job in a rural area to a man’s job in an urban area that has a much higher cost of living, which would drive up the cost of employing the woman in the rural lower-cost area. Such increase in employment costs would result in fewer people being employed, and would also result in employers shipping jobs overseas.
- Replaces a successful pay discrimination-determining system with a proven failed system. The PFA would invalidate the successful, Supreme Court-endorsed system for determining whether pay discrimination has occurred (known as the Interpretative Standards for Systemic Compensation Discrimination), and would replace it with the highly inaccurate Equal Opportunity Survey, which has found true discriminators to be non-discriminators 93 percent of the time.
- Increases the numbers in class-action suits. Under EPA, if an employee wants to participate in a class-action suit against his employer, he must affirmatively decide to participate in the suit. The PFA would automatically include employees in class-action suits, unless they affirmatively opt out. This change would result in booming business for trial attorneys, and huge costs to employers, who may decide to ship jobs overseas to avoid such costs altogether.
In addition to these changes, the PFA would institute a system of “comparable worth” effectively allowing judges, juries and unelected bureaucrats to set employees’ wages, instead of employers. Thus, an employee’s compensation level would be based on some vague notion of his “worth,” instead of on concrete factors like education, experience, time in the labor force, and hours worked per week. The PFA would also cause employers to avoid hiring women in low-paying positions, since the employers may then become targets for burdensome lawsuits. This trend would result in even higher unemployment for low-skilled women, potentially increasing the number of families dependent on government assistance.
Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush, called the PFA a “job killing, trial attorney bonanza,” and said employers potentially would see female applicants as instigators of lawsuits, instead of contributors to productivity.
Call or email your Senators and tell them to vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Please vote NO on the Paycheck Fairness Act
I am asking you to vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act.
The PFA does not address any real problems. Instead, it creates them by changing the rules for proving discrimination, allowing unlimited damages, and encouraging endless litigation.
Women don’t need the Paycheck Fairness Act – they want real solutions to the problems Americans face, like unaffordable health care and the slow economic recovery. Please vote no when it comes before the Senate.
The Senate should not be voting on useless pieces of legislation like PFA but should instead be repealing job-killing initiatives like the so-called Affordable Care Act.