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Was McCain Right to Oppose Equal Pay For Women Bill?

John McCain opposed a bill today, which would have given women suffering pay discrimination more time to sue their employers. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both supported the bill, which was defeated by Senate Republicans.

McCain said:

I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what's being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems. This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system.

McCain also said that what women really need is access to education and training, not access to the court system.

Do you agree with McCain? If employers are not susceptible to lawsuits, do they have any incentive to close the pay gap? If women can't realistically turn to the courts to stop pay discrimination, something that does happen in the US, where can they turn?


Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 9 years
Cabaker, I covered Carly Fiorina's departure from HP and as I recall, she was seen by many people as arrogant, incompetent (they missed quarters under her management, the Compaq merger was more about her than HP) and criticized her for claiming that anyone who dared question her was sexist. So, I'm not going to join you in sainting her or demeaning my feminism. It's not a fact to the whole world that unions suck companies dry, it's a pretend fact to people who value corporations and profits over people. "... You know Toyota, the automaker whose cars last longer and are built better and more efficiently than American autos? They are about 3 years away from losing their competitive edge entirely because the labor unions at thier plant here in America are getting out of control. That is REAL. That is a FACT. " Can you offer some supporting evidence of this - everything I've found suggests you are outrageously wrong here. But, I'd rather hear from you before I say anything.
ISUjules ISUjules 9 years
Jen the novel post is great. To add to that a little, one of the purposes of having a statute of limitations is that after a certain point proving your case becomes so much harder. Evidence goes away, people forget what happened etc. I think it would be really unfair and impractical for a woman like Ledbetter to sue based on a decision that happened 10 years ago. Do you remember the reviews, evaluations you got from your boss 10 years ago? No. Does your boss? No. Is the same boss even there? All other things being equal I think that women should be paid the same as men, but this supreme court decision and this bill were based on how long a person has to bring their claim. Women have two different remedies for the problem but the claim must be filed within a certain amount of time just like basically every other legal claim.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Good job Jen! Excellent points! If it were up to me, every single job would be base plus commission, that way we only have onself to blame if we don't like the money we're making!
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
MM you are correct. But when you start talking about "worth", you start getting very subjective instead of objective. :)
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
:woohoo: jennifer!
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
It's here! It's here, it's here, it's here! It's not quite as groundbreaking as I remember it, but's here! :cheer:
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"I agree that everyone should get the same pay for the same job" - I rarely agree with this mainly because rarely do two people do the exact same job to the exact same degree. I say a person should earn based upon their worth, not because they have the same job.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Ha ha ha! I swear I did! And it was looooong! With lots of links. I almost copied the text before I hit submit because I thought the links might get it flagged. Shoulda woulda coulda. Oh well, I left a GB for Liberty a while back and I'm sure it will get unflagged when someone gets a chance. :fingerscrossed:
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Alright Jen come clean! You never posted anything did you??? ;)
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Interesting point Sassie. I agree that everyone should get the same pay for the same job, but let's make sure either person does the job, and isn't unnecessarily delegating his/her responsibility.
sassieekat sassieekat 9 years
I am all for a lady getting the same pay as men as long as she can carry her load and not use her body to get men to do her job for her........I do not like to see a lady act like a man. I am not ready to be a floor mat for any man, but I do want them to open the door for me, then get out of the way....................
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
lol cabaker27, it better live up to mine, too! It's been like 2 1/2 hours now, and I can't even remember what I wrote! But, I'm very excited about it. So, I hope it's damn good. :rotfl:
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
still waiting for post Jen! the anticipation is making me more excited to read it! soooo... it had better live up to my expectations!
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Wow, great thread ya'll. I don't have too much to say here as it seems Cabaker and Jenn seem to be covering all the bases, so carry on. :)
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
One more thing that I want to add to my novel above (that will hopefully be unflagged soon) is that you have to consider the law of unintended consequences. If we let litigation take it to the point that it is very difficult for companies to pay any woman less than any man based on subjective (but valid!) measures, one of the consequences may well be that employers are hesitant to hire women at all. Like I said earlier in the thread, in places like Finland where mothers are allowed maternity leave up to 3 years, private employers often can't afford to hire women and are forced to discriminate in their hiring practices. It's important to have a balance where blatant issues can be addressed but it's not easy to abuse the system.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Gah. I just wrote a total novel and was flagged. :irk: Hopefully it will pop up soon.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Remedios, actually reading over the holding, it looks like she was denied a claim encompassing the entire 19 years of discrimination she felt she suffered and was only entitled to sue for discrimination that occurred within the charging period - 180 days in her particular case. Since her last pay raise/promotion opportunity was outside of that window, the Court held that there wasn't actually any discrimination in that period. Ginsburg's dissent was based on the fact that pay discrimination happens in small increments over time rather than at one time like a wrongful termination or something. Some really interesting things I've found tooling around this morning:
From the NYT The impact of the decision [in the Ledbetter case] on women may be somewhat limited by the availability of another federal law against sex discrimination in the workplace, the Equal Pay Act, which does not contain the 180-day requirement. Ms. Ledbetter initially included an Equal Pay Act complaint, but did not pursue it. That law has additional procedural hurdles and a low damage cap that excludes punitive damages. It does not cover discrimination on the basis of race or Title VII’s other protected categories.
So there was another way for her to seek redress but it required a little more footwork and would only entitle her to be paid back what she should have been paid rather than allow her to seek a large damages claim. Also interesting to note is that the $3,000,000 awarded her by a jury was reduced to $360,000 by the judge in that trial. And then Ginsburg's opinion:
Notably, the EPA provides no relief when the pay discrimination charged is based on race, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Thus,... the Court does not disarm female workers from achieving redress for unequal pay, but it does impede racial and other minorities from gaining similar relief.
So, while this is being portrayed as a hit to women, it looks like it's actually more of a hit to minorities and other discrimination classes. The more I read about this, the more questions I have. I'm having a hard time finding real specifics about this bill. From what I gather, it was seeking to redefine a pay discrimination event as a paycheck rather than a pay decision. But, what does that mean...? Than you can only sue for damages seen on each paycheck in the charging period? Or, that you can sue for damages over the entire perceived discrimination period so long as you have at least one paycheck in the charging period? I'm becoming more torn in my opinion here. I do think you have some responsibility to mitigate the problem. I don't think it's appropriate to allow someone to sit in a job they feel is paying them unfairly for a decade or more because they know they can sue as soon as they leave. So, I can see why it makes sense to say, look if you are being discriminated against, get up and bring that to the attention of the courts immediately. At the same time, it seems to me that given the nature of pay - nobody knows anybody else's pay - and how slow and small pay discrimination can start off, Congress needs to improve it's initial Equal Pay Act. I don't think I support this particular improvement, but I would like to see another attempt.
remedios remedios 9 years
This opinion represents a serious disconnect from reality. The SC decision was a bad one then, did not represent what Congress had passed, was not an appropriate interpretation of the law. (And proof that the lame tag of "activist judges" is severely misapplied, since that's exactly what the SC did, but since conservatives love those judges, they wouldn't want to attach that label. Stupid labels.) He clearly has no concept of what it's like to be a woman in the working world. Does he think women just run to the EEOC every chance they get? That discrimination is just something women make up? This is ridiculous. And Lilly Ledbetter didn't lose because she was or was not trained/educated; she lost because the SC said that the statute of limitations for suits like this start as soon as the alleged harm happens, even if she is completely unaware of what other people are being paid. This, even though typically, when one is suing for a particular harm, the statute of limitations doesn't start until the person is aware of it. (Think about a new house built; if a construction company did an extremely negligent job on the foundation, but this doesn't become apparent until 5 years later, the damage isn't noticeable until then, the statute of limitations starts then, 5 years later. Under the Ledbetter rule, it would start the moment the foundation was set, allowing the construction company to get away with the injury if the statute of limitations is only 4 years since they should have filed the suit earlier, even though they would have had no way of knowing that the injury happened.)
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Meg I still gotta disagree with you about job hopping, 3 jobs in 5 years, absolutely looks terrible on a resume. But switching jobs once in 20 years does not. Just to clarify, I agree he chose his words badly, but I'm glad he cleared them up as he went on speaking... even if the soundbite is off. And I do agree that women get paid less, thats a fact. I just think that if we worked towards breaking down the societal perception that women who negotiate are b*tchy or whatever and encouraged more women to be proactive and tougher we would solve the majority of the problem. As I mentioned on page 1, two-and-a-half times more women than men said they feel very apprehensive about negotiating salaries. Lets fix that first! Let suing be our plan B.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
But Meg I don't think the stats DO show that its systematic discrimination.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Lil, that is so awesome! I am achieving my goal of bringing Barry back into the conscience of Americans!
syako syako 9 years
Hey guys - just wanted to commend cabaker and jennifer for REALLY holding down the fort on this one. Great points, great discussion! :highfive:
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Oops, thorough, not through.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Thanks, Cine. And Meg, that could be one explanation, but it could also be that women are earning more advanced degrees, staying in the work force longer, etc. now. Like Jennifer said, I think it needs more through analysis. By the way, Cine, I was at the book store yesterday and TWO of the books on the front tables were about Goldwater. It made me think of you. I am a nerd.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
That's an excellent point megmccoy, and another possible explanation for that trend. It would be interesting to look at the breakdown twenty years ago and 50 years ago and see if the trend was the same or if this is a new direction.
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