In honor of Equal Pay Day, I’ve decided to share the response I received from Senator Angus King about equal pay, specifically the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries, and require employers to prove pay gaps are necessary for the business, tied to job performance, and not related to gender. All good things in my book. Senator King disagrees.
Because I have to have the last word, I’m responding to his response. My comments are in [blue brackets].
Thank you for being in touch with me about the Paycheck Fairness Act. [Your’e welcome!] While I fully support the goal of achieving gender pay equity [whoo-hoo!], I am not sure that this bill is the best approach we can take to solving this problem. Congress and the President already passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 [I know; I’m so proud], which I believe strikes the correct balance between ensuring women’s rights to challenge wage discrimination and the ability of business owners to avoid excessive regulatory burdens [excessive regulatory burdens? Like paying me the same amount of money as an equally qualified man who does the same work?]. We should work within the current legal framework, which already provides women with the opportunity to win compensation for discriminatory wage practices [only if they know the discriminatory practices exist], to close the gender pay gap.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as modified by the Equal Pay Act of 1963, employers are prohibited from paying women lower wages than men who are working in positions with the same responsibilities and necessary skills [and we’re still making less than 80 cents to the dollar, so there’s room for improvement]. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, workers are allowed to file lawsuits against wage-discriminating employers within 180 days of their most recent affected paycheck. This means that under current law, women already have the latitude to contest wage discrimination at any point during their employment when their pay has been unfairly limited or reduced in comparison to their male co-workers [again, only if you know the wage discrimination is occurring. That’s not something employers advertise in the break room].
The Paycheck Fairness Act presumes that these current protections are not enough. First, the Act would tighten the definition of what constitutes an allowable pay differential. Second, the Act would open the door for class-action lawsuits based on gender pay gaps, exposing employers to significant additional risks beyond the individual lawsuits they may already face [as they should if they are screwing over women]. Third, there would be added wage reporting requirements. I believe that these provisions place too much of a burden on employers without providing significant further protections for women in the workforce. This is why I cannot support the Paycheck Fairness Act as currently drafted. [So…..do you have a counter-proposal? Or do you think everything’s working fine right now?]
Once again, thank you for being in touch with me. I really appreciate hearing the concerns and insights of my constituents as I join with the rest of my Senate colleagues in addressing the issues vital to our nation. Please feel free to contact me in the future on other matters that I can bring to the Senate’s attention [I think we both know I will].
ANGUS S. KING, JR.
United States Senator
So there you have it folks. Happy Equal Pay Day.