Equal Pay Should Be For Equal Work, Not Unequal Work

Yesterday, I criticized the assumption that people should receive equal pay for unequal work, such as requiring the average woman to be paid exactly the same amount as the average man even though the average male employee works more hours than the average female employee. (I am talking here about averages, not generalizing about every individual case; there are obviously male part-time employees, just as there are women who work 80 hours a week.)

But apparently this point was too subtle for some people. Collin Maessen of Real Sceptic tweeted my blog post, with the preface, “apparently CEI is against regulations that allow women to earn the same wages for the same work as men do.” I didn’t write about such regulations at all. To me, it’s not “the same work” if it’s not the same number of hours. Why should a full-time employee be paid as little as a part-time employee? Why should an employee who works 60 hours per week be paid the same as an employee who works 40 hours per week?

I did not discuss, much less criticize, the existing regulations that require that women be paid “the same wages for the same work as men do,” which include the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  I did criticize a proposed regulation, the Paycheck Fairness Act (which has not yet become law), but I criticized it precisely because it did NOT simply require that women be paid the same wages for the same work as men, but rather “would require equal pay for unequal work.” The only other regulation I mentioned, which I mentioned only in passing, was a law that did not change substantive law, and did not change whether or when women must be paid the same wages, but merely extended the statute of limitations for suing under one existing law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, that previously had the shortest deadline for suing. (That particular statutory deadline was extended in a 2009 law known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I noted that that particular law “was enacted based on false claims about the facts and ruling contained in a Supreme Court decision dealing with pay discrimination.”  Even before the passage of that law in 2009, people could sue over pay discrimination not only under Title VII, but also under another law, the Equal Pay Act, that had a longer statutory deadline, typically three years, and arguably had more generous accrual rules as well.)