The Paycheck Fairness Act would require employees to opt-out, rather than opt-in, to class action suits filed against their employers. It would also increase the potential payouts for plaintiffs and their lawyers by allowing punitive damage awards. The legislation would also make it more difficult for businesses to defend themselves. Instead of being able to justify differences in pay based on factors such as experience, job duties, and business necessity, employers would be vulnerable if an employee could demonstrate that “an alternative employment practice exists that would serve the same business purpose without producing such differential.” Such as ambiguous standard would encourage businesses to adopt rigid, one-size-fits-all compensation practices. That bad news for female workers who want to negotiate more flexible job arrangements.
Even the Washington Post recognized that the Paycheck Fairness Act is “a flawed approach to job bias,” and warned in an editorial that the legislation “would allow employees and courts to intrude too far into core business decisions.”
Democrats assuming that this rhetoric will be a big hit with women may be disappointed. After all, American women’s primary concern today isn’t that they are subject to hostile workplaces and are discriminated against on the job. Their biggest worry is that they and their loved ones can’t find jobs at all. Increased government examining of pay practices and more litigation isn’t going to solve that fundamental problem.
In fact, the Paycheck Fairness Act is another job killer: It’s another reason for businesses not to want to hire, since each new hire—particularly of a woman—is another potential lawsuit. Businesses worrying about litigation or bureaucrats thumbing through their employment records have less time and money to dedicate to expanding. The Paycheck Fairness Act would be another anchor dragging down economic growth, which is exactly what our economy—and American women—don’t need.
Yet helping real women isn’t the purpose of this new legislative push. This is pure politics. Democrats see painting the opposition as a sexist bogeyman as their path to victory. Americans should reject more than just unnecessary, big government proposals like the Paycheck Fairness Act, but the entire War on Women mantra.
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