Paycheck Fairness Act: Everyone Gets Paid NYC Wages

by Michael Haberman on July 30, 2008 · 0 comments


The Paycheck Fairness Act is in the House! The House of Representatives that is, and it is a crock! The Paycheck Fairness Act, sponsored by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) (wow, what a surprise), was approved by the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor on July 24, 2008.

SHRM is recommending to its membership that we contact our Congressional representatives, both houses, and tell them to VOTE NO. I will add to that “HELL NO”. The misnamed piece of legislation is a nightmare. Here are the provisions of it. Specifically, the bill would:

  • facilitate class action lawsuits by repealing the requirement that employees must give their written consent to become a party in a gender discrimination class action,
  • lift the caps on compensatory or punitive damages for which employers would be liable, in addition to current liability for back pay. Such damages would apply to even unintentional pay disparities,
  • prevent employers from retaliating against employees who disclose or discuss the wages of other employees,
  • prohibit certain employer defenses for pay disparities. For example, the bill would eliminate an employer’s ability to justify paying different salaries to workers based in different locations with different costs of living.

That last bullet point alone is enough to show how nuts this is! It means if you have locations in high paying cities and lower paying cities (because of the cost of living) you will have to pay everyone the HIGHER WAGE.

I am not for wage discrimination in any form, but falling back to the past rejected concept of comparable worth is not the way to go. Comparable worth pay systems require the government, rather than the private market, to determine employees’ wages. Congress explicitly rejected comparable worth during the original Equal Pay Act debate—when wage disparities between women and men were greater—because it would mandate the same pay for completely different jobs. Furthermore, courts have repeatedly declared that the Equal Pay Act does not require a comparable worth system.

Watch this one and shake in your HR boots as we move to a Democrat lead administration and Congress.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie July 30, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Mike,

What angers me about this is that the free market is neither free nor fair. It’s self-insulated and has no other “check” except government. If the government can’t require fair wages and comparable worth, what incents a company to pay its employees fairly?

Another thing that angers me is SHRM in general. They can’t choose a CEO but they can take my dues, paid for by employers, and tell me to encourage my representatives and senators to vote against a bill that would hurt the very same employers who pay my dues. It seems incestuous to me, yo.

– laurie

Reply

Michael D. Haberman, SPHR July 31, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Laurie:
No one has mentioned that we have a piece of legislation that takes care of mandating that people pay the same, it is called the Equal Pay Act, which says equal pay for equal work.

As to the inequity in between men and women, with women earning $.77 for every $1 much of that can be explained by issues such as career interruption.

Market forces explain more. If you work in a field that is valued less by the market, regardless of how noble the field is, you will get paid less. I do not make as much as many other men, regardless of my similar sex, because I work in HR, a field that is not as valued as is sales, finance, marketing, etc. In fact because I work for a small company I make less than many women in HR that work for large companies, despite the fact that I have 25+ years of experience, a Masters and an SPHR. It was my choice to do so.

When the argument of comparable worth first came up, long before you were in HR, it used the example of male firefighters and female nurses, the latter paid the smaller amount. What ended up happening was that fewer women became nurses and tried to become firefighters. As fewer women went into nursing the supply went down while the demand stayed the same. People started to have to pay more to nurses to get people interested in being nurses and wages went up, in some cases exceeding what firefighters were paid. Pay inequity solved.

Just because you think you should be paid more, or your job should be more valuable, or is more valuable to society does not mean it is going to be. And it should not be mandated to be so. The market does adjust. Society determines what is valuable. Government screws it up. Society says teachers should be more valuable, hence get paid more, however, governments set the value of a teacher and pay accordingly. Not a good model. Do you really want the government to say what an HR job is worth. I sure don’t.

Reply

HR Wench July 31, 2008 at 7:14 pm

“As to the inequity in between men and women, with women earning $.77 for every $1 much of that can be explained by issues such as career interruption.”

And, discrimination.

Reply

Michael D. Haberman, SPHR July 31, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Hey Wench.. you are correct. I am not denying that discrimination has occurred. But, as women become the dominate force in the workplace (and yes that is happening) you will see that fade away (albeit slower than most would like.)

Reply

HR Wench July 31, 2008 at 8:58 pm

I hope I see it in my life time. If I do, can we have a big party? 🙂

Reply

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