If you want to hear an opinion on pay equality, take it from someone who has seen it first hand
I am speechless and outraged by Republicans who blocked legislation meant to close the gender pay gap. Not only is it not fair, there are several repercussions that women face when making only 77 cents on the dollar compared to their counterparts in the work place.
These are questions that courts have been mediating since 1963 as companies have faced lawsuits over gender discrimination with regard to wages. Why 1963? Because that’s when the Equal Pay Act was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy. The law says that “no employer shall discriminate between employees on the basis of sex.” It passed the House that year by a 362-9 vote.
When I worked at my last law firm, I worked for a female attorney. She was very accomplished having graduated from the University of Southern California Law School and was on the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, yes the Supreme Court. We worked on consumer protection cases and we were suing major corporations that were stealing from people on several levels.
I won’t go into the cases, but let me assure you, with the help of myself, she won every case in Federal Court. We partnered with law firms all over the country to get consumers their money back. She took no “coupon cases” and got thousands of dollars back for our Plaintiffs. But while we were working our tails off, sometimes until 2 am, several of the male attorneys and paralegal staff would shoot the breeze about sports, women they wanted to screw or whatever floated their boat.
The partners were much harder on my boss about expenses, including making her stay in hotels that were not as prestigious as the ones the men stayed in. She was also not allowed to fly first class, something the men did all the time. Her vacation time was scrutinized and I’ll never forget an equity partner telling her that she had, “Women’s disease”, whatever that is.
The gender pay gap affects so many aspects of women’s lives. Not only do women bring home less money to help support their households, but saving money for retirement, including 401k’s, IRA’s and Social Security is more difficult than it is for men. A women’s debt/income ratio is therefore higher as well and that lowers their credit scores, preventing them from purchasing homes and vehicles. It’s not just immediate discrimination, it lasts a lifetime.
The quotes from members of Congress have been so sadistic that it is staggering. In the heat of the last presidential race, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio waved off the Ledbetter Act as “an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits.” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said the Paycheck Fairness Act would interfere with the free market, comparing it to the way the Soviet Politburo set the price of bread.
Greg Abbot, Attorney General of Texas, who is running for Governor against Wendy Davis actually said that women have smaller brains than men. Abbot also said he would have vetoed the Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Gov. Rick Perry did veto it, and calls equal pay concerns “nonsense.” They’re not alone. A parade of Republican men is always at the ready to dismiss the gender pay gap and outright pay discrimination.
According to Forbes, the reason behind the Republican stance on paycheck fairness is that it’s impossible for employers to tie compensation to work quality, production, and experience. Lawsuits would increase. And they point out that even women in the Obama White House earn 88 percent of their male counterparts, according to a study conducted by the American Enterprise Institute (a private, conservative and partisan institution).
In this economy, who can rely on well-paid husbands to foot the bills? Even spouses and partners need women to make the same money as it helps them prosper as well. It’s also clear that disparities are indeed related to gender. Many women who ask for pay raises based on merit don’t get them. Women often experience some sort of backlash or are even harassed after asking, usually out of some fear that the woman may take the man’s job or something of that nature. Either way, it is cowardly.
On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, President Obama had to sign two executive orders aimed at ensuring federal contractors pay women as much as men for equal work. The president also ordered contractors to report data to the government showing the compensation paid to employees by gender and race. That’s great for women who work for the Federal government, but what about the private sector? What is going to happen to those women, many of whom have spent the same amount of money on their educations, have the same student loan debt, and according to Republicans, cost more to insure through health insurance.
“America should be a level playing field, a fair race for everybody, a place where anybody who’s willing to work hard has a chance to get ahead,” Obama said, mocking Republicans as trapped in another era. “I don’t know why you would resist the idea that women should be paid the same as men, and then deny that that’s not always happening out there,” the president continued. “If Republicans in Congress want to prove me wrong, if they want to show that they in fact do care about women being paid the same as men, then show me. They can start tomorrow. They can join us in this, the 21st century.”
So please, Republicans, keep telling us how it’s nonsense to even talk about addressing the fact that women are routinely paid less than men. Tell us how you’d veto any bill trying to strengthen existing legal protections for women. Just keep going on television and explaining this one. Be really extra dismissive about it. It’s nonsense, after all and us women folk deserve to know how you feel. See you at the polls in November.