When the Senate comes back in session next week, expect an extra dose of preening about the noble cause of protecting women from the discrimination that plagues workplaces across America. The Senate plans to take up the Paycheck Fairness Act—legislation that would benefit trail lawyers, not women—as a way to once again beat the drum that Republicans are conducting a “War on Women” by not agreeing to everything on Democrats’ wish list.
These press events may be a little more awkward than usual, however. The Free Beacon recently reported that the very female Senators championing the Paycheck Fairness Act under the banner of the need for “equal pay for women” and closing the “wage gap” have considerable “wage gaps” in their own offices. Reporter Andrew Stiles wrote:
Of the five senators who participated in Wednesday’s press conference—Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)—three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers.
Murray, who has repeatedly accused Republicans of waging a “war on women,” is one of the worst offenders. Female members of Murray’s staff made about $21,000 less per year than male staffers in 2011, a difference of 35.2 percent.
These Senators would no doubt protest that this isn’t a fair analysis: The staffers in their office perform different jobs and have different levels of experience, which is why such pay differentials exist. Yet that’s exactly why the wage gap exists in the broader economy. And that doesn’t stop these Senators from using those statistics when they call for legislation to address the so-called problem.
Paycheck Fairness Act proponents ignore existing laws—including the much ballyhooed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—that make sex discrimination illegal and give women grounds to sue their employers. The Paycheck Fairness Act would just tilt the legal playing field a little more in the favor of plaintiffs. This seems unlikely to make discrimination less of a presence in the workplace or lead to more just outcomes. It is sure, however, to create a lot more litigations and profits for trial lawyers.