Paycheck Fairness Act Would Mandate Equal Pay for Unequal Work

The Obama administration wants to force employers to pay some people equal amounts for doing unequal work, through a deceptive bill known as the Paycheck Fairness Act. “Male supermarket managers with college degrees couldn’t be paid more than female cashiers if the college degree for the manager wasn’t consistent with ‘business necessity,'” says economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth in a July 23 column in The Washington Examiner. The bill would also radically increase damage awards for what it labels as “discrimination.”

As I noted in a July 27 letter in response to her column,

Diana Furchtgott-Roth was right to criticize a bill that would require some people who do unequal work to be paid equal amounts. The perverse ‘Paycheck Fairness Act’ is indeed a bad idea. But her column understated the case by suggesting that ‘now,’ an employer found guilty of discrimination is only required to pay ‘back pay,’ not ‘punitive damages.’ Actually, employers already have to pay not only back pay but also damages up to $300,000 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The so-called ‘Paycheck Fairness Act’ would eliminate the cap on punitive damages in gender-based pay discrimination cases, leaving the sky as the limit. Other provisions in this perverse bill could force employers to pay people who do nasty, dangerous, unpleasant jobs as little as those who do nice, pleasant ones, if the unpleasant jobs are performed mostly by members of one gender, and the pleasant ones mostly by the other gender. (Examiner, Pg. 20)

The supporters of the bill falsely claim it would simply treat gender-based pay discrimination the same as other pay-discrimination cases. Lazy journalists sometimes parrot this claim. But it is simply false, as I noted earlier.

The falsehoods may well succeed. In 2009, another bill known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed Congress based on false claims about what the Supreme Court held in a pay discrimination case known as Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007). In signing the bill into law, Obama himself misstated the facts and holding of that Supreme Court decision, and broke a campaign promise dealing with transparency in the process.