Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kay Hagan: Rejecting Fair Pay Act makes no sense

North Carolina's U.S. Senator Kay Hagan told the Observer editorial board it's not over for the Fair Pay Act that failed in a party-line Senate vote just hours ago. Republicans, who had called the bill an election-year ploy By Democrats and President Obama to appeal to women, blocked the bill with a 52-47 vote that came short of the required 60-vote threshold to move on.

Hagan was in Charlotte on Monday, stumping for the bill's passage. (It's a followup to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that Obama signed into law in 2009 that gave women the right to sue as long as their discriminatory pay, removing a reguirement that suit had to brought with 180 days of the initial discrimination.)

In a talk with the editorial board after the bill on Tuesday failed she said the failure of Republicans to vote for the measure aimed at ensuring equal pay for women in the workplace didn't make sense to her. The bill would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss and disclose their own salary information with co-workers, and strengthen remedies available to employees who have been wronged.

"When we look at the facts, we realize nationally that women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make, and they're doing the same job," Hagan said. "In North Carolina, we're doing a little bit better, it's 81 cents, and this is based on Census reports and good statistics. We're close to 50 years from passing the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and yet women are still not able to be equal participants in the work force."

When we asked her about the Republicans' contention that bill wouldn't be necessary if the economy was stabilized, she said: "Why penalize women based on the way the economy is today? The numbers that I've seen it looks like it would be in the year 2054 if you look at trends on economic opportunities. That's the year that women's pay would equal men's (without addressing these other issues that drive inequity). We've been waiting since 1963, I think it's high time we get this problem solved."

It might be noted that the pay disparity has persisted even when the economy was good. Ir is no "myth", as some conservative pundits contend.

Hagan also said the bill gives a boost to the punishment that employers face for paying women who do the same work less than men. Right now, if an employer is caught discriminating against women with pay, the women can only get back pay. That's hardly incentive to be proactive about paying women equitably. Businesses lose nothing by delaying, hoping never to get caught.

"This bill allows compensatory damages if someone is found in violation," she said. "For the same job, women should be paid the same thing. Obviously, there are going to be cases of different experiences, different education (studies show the gap is only partially explained by those factors). But different pay shouldn't be based on gender."

About this being an election-year ploy, Hagan said: "We tried to get this bill done in 2010. If not, when?" she asked.

She also noted that getting women equal pay could be a big boost to the economy. Here in North Carolina, women average $33,000 to men's $41,000 in income. Over a woman's lifetime, that $8,000 difference affects women's abilities to take care of their families and their retirement benefits. "It really handicaps women, who make up 41 percent of the workforce," she said.

Polls show overwhelming support for legislation giving women tools they need to be able to get equal pay for equal work, Hagan said, and that support is overwhelming among Republicans, Democrats, independents, women and men.

Too bad that commonsense support didn't show up in the Senate on Tuesday.

With Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changing his vote to join the majority after the measure failed, Senate rules allow the bill to brought up again this legislative session. Hagan expects it will before the end of the year, but not before the November election.

Posted by Fannie Flono


Garth Vader said...

Want more pay? Negotiate. Don't get it? Quit.

All this will do is enrich lawyers and clog up the courts.

Skippy said...

That's what they want to do, enrich trial lawyers sort of like the classy Edwards.. This would be an absolute disaster for small business's. Plus Hagan is a bold face liar. She knows darn well what this lag in pay is caused from by men taking the more dangerous jobs and work longer hours. Plus I can name of handful of female women congresscritters that pay their female staffers less then men, including Pelosi, Murray, Boxer and even this White House pays it's women staffers 14% less then men.

Hypocrisy at work and just more election year smoke screens.

kantstanzya said...

The Dems are always saying the GOP wants to pass bills that are geared towards solving problems that don't exist...like voter ID laws because they claim voter fraud doesn't exist. Well this is a prime example of passing a law to correct something that really doesn't exist....pay discrimination for women.

There are many reasons people are paid different amounts. Recent studies have shown women make less than men overall because they want part time work, flexible hours and they go into lower paying fields. When comparing the same job under equal circumstances there is no evidence women are paid less. In fact a recent study showed young, unmarried women without children actually make MORE than men in comparable jobs.

The Supreme Court has already ruled it is not enough to just show a pay differntial (Kay Hagen's 77% figure)... one must prove it is a result of sex discrimination. That will be nearly impossible to prove. This is nothing more than political posturing nonsence to foster the Dems imaginary "war on women".

annnort said...

Perhaps Hagan did not read the bill or she just towed her party line. The bill considered a business guilty until the business proved its innocense. It was carte blanche for lawyers. We do not need more suing in thi country. Nor do we need more lawyers! This was indeed a ploy by the demos. Why wait til just before the election? Why not bring before the senate all the bills passed by the house this year and last? Hagan is not a senator who represents her constituents. Too bad she has 2 more years.

Sam said...

The real travesty here is why the Observer has NOTHING about Scott Walker's win today. Can you just imagine the headline if he had lost to the union thugs.

Shamash said...

Same pay for "same" work?

Who defines "same" work?

The Census report and "good" statistics?

Oh yeah, those never lie...

It's obviously not the market, or else any business composed entirely of women doing the "same" work as men at only 77% of their pay would be the most competetive in the market.

Since that is NOT happening, then I suspect that "same" work for men and women is not the SAME at all.

Maybe, just maybe, the pay disparity is for DIFFERENT work that some people just THINK should be paid the same.

Big difference.

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

We should all be sick of media lies about "women making 77% (or whatever lower %) of what men make, as this is a manufactured stat taking no account of experience, leave time, duties, etc. Equal pay for equal work is ALREADY the law, and even the Dimos know that. This bill is for pol. points with gullible voters-period.

Veronica said...

If female employees cost businesses only 77% as much as males for the same work...

...how is it that any man has a job?

Surely in today's cut throat business climate any business manager would reduce operating costs by 23% in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

Sam, I just saw your comment. The Observer had a front-page story on Scott Walker today. Not sure what paper you were reading.