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In this day and age, it's hard to admit that you just think employers should be allowed to pay women less than men because they're women. But Republicans certainly aren't going to let the Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to make it easier for women to find out if they're being paid less than their male coworkers and do something about it, become law. So what's a Republican to do to try to hide the fact that the opposition is really all about keeping women underpaid? Well, here's one emerging right-wing talking point against the Paycheck Fairness Act:
'Paycheck Fairness Act' Would Require Employers to Share Workers' Salaries:
@Stips620 via Tweet Button
The link goes to a conservative Christian site, under the headline being tweeted out: that the bill would "require employers to share workers' salaries." But aside from the headline, it's an excerpt from and a link to a CBS story titled "Mikulski's 'Paycheck Fairness Act' Would Allow Employees to Discuss Salaries." See the rhetorical shift? The Paycheck Fairness Act actually gives workers a new right: to talk to their coworkers about how much they're paid without being disciplined or even sued, as they can be now. But the opposition frames it as a new requirement falling on employers, to divulge all salary information, and a loss of privacy for workers, who will supposedly have their salary information made public whether they want it or not. All that in one misleading headline attached to an accurate, if not very detailed, article! And it's been picked up by Drudge, so you know it's the hot new argument for keeping discrimination against women safe and easy.

It's true that, under the Paycheck Fairness Act, employers found to be paying women less than men would face a stricter standard (PDF) for showing that the pay disparity was related to job performance and not to gender, tightening up a loophole in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that has allowed discriminators to claim that pay disparities were just because men are better at negotiating, for instance. That's a burden of proof Republicans don't want to put on businesses.

It's already illegal to discriminate. The Paycheck Fairness Act doesn't make it more illegal. It just gives women some new tools to find out if they're being discriminated against—makes it safe just to tell your coworkers how much you earn without fear of retaliation—and makes it a little harder for employers to wiggle out of trouble for breaking the law. Republicans want you to believe that's some big loss of liberty and privacy. But the only "right" they're trying to protect is the one to cover up illegal discrimination.

Please tell Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and give women a better chance to fight discrimination.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 09:44 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  this concern for privacy would be more (10+ / 0-)

    compelling if a diary or two  last week didn't cover how many big employers were using a service that was selling employment and salary information they get when they are hired to do employment verification for said companies.

    Funny how privacy isn't a concern for Republicans when big business is making money off the lack of privacy, but it is when big business might lose money in judgments for pay discrimination.

  •  Under the National Labor Relations Act, workers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, LilithGardener

    can already tell their co-workers how much they make.

    And, it is illegal for employers to tell their workers not to discuss their wages.

      •  Thank you - sunshine is sorely needed for (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LaraJones, Calamity Jean

        workers, both men and women, and other ways we are grouped, to really know their rights.

        I once read an article about the supposed inability of women to negotiate higher salaries.  The trite explanation is that men get paid more, in part, simply because they ask for more money, and negotiate harder.

        The article about diversity in hiring, included two quotes which are still noteworthy, so many years later, IIRC.

        Paraphrasing (and with memories caveats).

        One man admitted, off the record, that when he wants to stack the candidate pool with women, he will advertise a salary range that overlaps with the lower half of the market rate and has a median BELOW the low end of the market range, and a maximum LESS THAN the median of the market rate. He was proud of that trick for dissuading male candidates from even applying.

        The other quote was even more revealing. The manager said that if he found a woman candidate who was well qualified and COULD negotiate compensation as well as a man, he WOULD NOT hire her, because he wouldn't like her personality.

    •  Under the NLRA, you can discuss your (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener, AoT, mungley

      salary with me, and I can discuss mine with you, but there are circumstances under which I would be prohibited from sharing what you told me with a third worker.  The Paycheck Fairness Act would permit that sharing more broadly than is currently possible under the NLRA.

      •  The way I understand it right now (0+ / 0-)

        John tells Jane he makes $X. Jane tells John she is making $Y (where Y is less than X). This is legal.

        Jane tells Boss that John is making $X, she's making $Y, but she's been employed the same amount of time as John, does the same job as John and has had the same good performance reviews as John, and wants to know why. This is illegal. PFA would make this legal.

        Do I have it right?

        "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

        by yg17 on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 11:08:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Both are legal (0+ / 0-)

          In the first, John and Jane are engaged in protected concerted activity.

          In the second, Jane is telling Boss that as a result of her protected activity, she knows that John makes more than her.

      •  I'm not sure I would want my salary broadcasted (0+ / 0-)

        in anyway unless I specifically wanted it to be.  I'm not certain if I like this idea. I will have to research it further.

    •  From the National Women's Law Center: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, Bob B, brae70


      Many workplaces have official policies requiring employees to keep the amount they are paid secret and banning them from sharing this information with their coworkers. A 2010 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that almost a quarter of private sector employees work in settings with formal policies against discussing salary information and/or where workers can be punished for discussing their salaries. Even in workplaces without formal pay secrecy policies, managers still discourage employees from disclosing their wages to their coworkers – the same study found that an additional 38 percent of private-sector workers said this was the case. Indeed, over 61 percent of the private-sector workers surveyed reported that discussing their wages is either prohibited or discouraged. [...]

      Despite the NLRA’s protections, a number of loopholes have led employers to commonly adopt pay secrecy policies, including those that are punitive. First, the NLRA permits employers to institute policies that interfere with conduct protected by the NLRA if there is a “legitimate and substantial business justification” for doing so. Courts have interpreted this provision broadly, allowing, for example, prohibitions on any discussion of wages during working time and on employees’ distribution of wage information compiled by the company.

      Second, the NLRA only protects a fairly narrow group of employees. It does not protect supervisors, a group that is defined broadly as including “any individual having authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action . . . [if the foregoing] requires the use of independent judgment.” [...]

      Third, the remedies available under the NLRA are
      extremely limited and fail to effectively deter employers from adopting pay secrecy policies that penalize workers. Even if a worker qualifies for NLRA protection and shows that he or she was retaliated against illegally because of a policy that constitutes an unfair labor practice, the only remedies are reinstatement, limited back pay, and an order that the employer rescind its policy. No damages are available to fully compensate workers for the harm they may have suffered as a result of being punished for discussing their wages.

      •  This makes a good case for strengthening the NLRA, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob B, Laura Clawson

        which has had most of it's teeth extracted over the past 30 years.  Employers know they can violate the act almost with impunity and that the worker has to go through a beauraucratic maze to get any remedy, and a belated one at that.

        I'm no fan of Ralph Nader, but he said something good when he said that interference withthe right to organize should be placed on a par with other types of rights, such as anti-discrimination and anti-sexual harassment.

    •  I quit one of the worst jobs I ever had over this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      When my jerk boss told me I couldn't tell people what I earned, I told him that I could; federal law outranked company rules. Then I gave my 2 weeks notice; they paid me off rather than let me hang around making trouble for 2 weeks.  

  •  Another in a long line of inequities (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lcbo, LilithGardener

    that the Repubs seem to thrive on. Is progress really that scary to them? Or is it just bald greed?

    "Onward through the fog!" - Oat Willie

    by rocksout on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 10:06:19 AM PST

  •  As Someone Who Works For A Media Company (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, mungley

    That has three initials I just want to add that the CBS headline is all too obvious from their corporate standpoint. If five people have the exact same job in the same city, they want to be able to pay them all different salaries for no other reason than the whim of the supervisor (or his desire for a bigger bonus). They would rather those five people not be able to easily find out what the others are making.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 10:07:21 AM PST

    •  Yup - they want to enable (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Lone Apple, Calamity Jean

      abusive managers to lie and manipulate their subordinates with tactics such as holding out the possibility of a raise and giving false reasons for small or non-existent raises.

      Denying pay raises with false justifications (or tiny pay raises) is one of the oldest tricks in the book to make someone unappreciated or miserable so that they quit. Then the manager can bring in their buddy at a much higher price, and the employee who quit may never find out. And 6 months after their last paycheck will have NO RECOURSE.

  •  Why is "salary sharing" a problem? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, lcbo, SteveSand

    As an employee of a state agency, the law in my state requires that my salary and those of all other state employees be publicly available (a policy I agree with). Why shouldn't a similar policy apply in the private sector as well? By the way, I'm in a "red state" so the Republicans here apparently have no problem with salary disclosure, at least for state employees.

    •  See the 3rd comment above: iy IS protected in the (0+ / 0-)

      private sector.  Plus, here's a link:

    •  That was my reaction (0+ / 0-)

      as someone who had a long career in public education. It's also true that the salaries of members of congress is public knowledge.

    •  Well as a teacher, my salary is on a schedule and (0+ / 0-)

      quite equal with those with likewise certifications and years in, and as a professor this is a similar situation.  However, we all have like certs, education, qualifications and general job descriptions.  I personally don't like that my salary is revealed to everyone but it is.

      However, in the private sector salary can and should vary greatly.  Everyone could have differing job titles, education, time spent working for the company.  Starting salary negotiations and contracts could vary on your skills at hire, how badly they needed you, how valuable your skills are, your level of expertise, your recommendations etc.  Your performance after hire is a leading factor in raises and you might progress higher in salary faster or slower than someone else.  So, it is quite possible that no two people at one company might have the exact same salary or would be expected to, with all of those difference in place.

      Personally, I would be very angry if my salary in a situation like that was released to anyone who wanted to know.  It could cause animosity in the work place, and who would want that.  What if my performance was strong, I was there everyday and my education was rewarded....and my co worker happen to have the same title and years in but never performed, was late everyday, failed to make deadlines you think that employee would be understanding of my higher salary, and just accept his or her own failings?  

      •  It wouldn't require your salary to be released. (0+ / 0-)

        You could tell people your salary. People you told it to could discuss your salary as long as knowing your salary wasn't part of their job (i.e. your employer could still fire your boss or the HR rep for improperly disclosing your salary). That's all that part of the law would change.

  •  My salary was published in legal notices (7+ / 0-)

    When I worked for the city, all salaries were published annually as a legal notice. It gave rise to all sorts of "overpaid bureaucrats" news articles, of course. But our privacy was never an issue.

    In the private sector, the "don't discuss your pay" command is specifically designed to keep you from knowing whether you are being paid fairly in comparison to other workers and in the industry as a whole. Its entire purpose is to prevent people from demanding fair pay.

    "Maybe life's meaning is not so much found, as it is made." Opus, by Berke Breathed

    by Lisa in Bama on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 10:09:25 AM PST

    •  And I would add (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LaraJones, Calamity Jean
      Its entire purpose is to prevent people from demanding fair pay.
      there is a second use. It prevents others in the industry from seeing what kind of perks can be negotiated when management claims they can't afford a higher base pay or bonus structure.

      Bonuses are another way that discriminatory practices can be executed with near impunity.

    •  could you define fair pay? (0+ / 0-)

      I've turned down several jobs based on low pay and every job i've accepted i considered the wage 'fair pay'

      •  Asking Someone To Define "Fair Pay" Is Like Asking (0+ / 0-)

        someone to define what is beautiful. Although it's difficult to define, most people know what is "fair" vs. "unfair" when they see it.  For example, I found out (inadvertently) that my co-worker, who had the same title as me, and did the same work as I did, was being paid $2,500 more per year. Since we were doing the same job, putting in the same hours, had the same title and level of experience, the only reason I could figure out was that he was male, and I wasn't. I can't define what "fair pay" is, but I do know that I was being paid "unfairly" in comparison to my co-worker. There is definitely discrimination going on, and the Paycheck Fairness Act would help alleviate it.

  •  Do Dem Senators practice what they preach? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    From you can view the salaries of those who work for members of Congress. To me, it seems that most Senators pay staffers how you'd expect (more $ for longer time served and higher position). Some MD Republicans though continue to claim Sen. Cardin discriminates based on gender.

    A local Maryland conservative continually claims that Sen. Cardin (D-MD) pays his female staffers less.

    From the latest round of reporting, the only reason it would seem female staffers are paid less is that they lower positions than males, as is the case for the Senator's female Administrative Director and male Chief of Staff.

    Does anyone else hear claims about Democrats not practicing what they preach in regards to paycheck fairness, or is he just making crap up and can't understand that different positions mean different pay scales?

  •  I'm not sure if i support this (0+ / 0-)
    It's true that, under the Paycheck Fairness Act, employers found to be paying women less than men would face a stricter standard (PDF) for showing that the pay disparity was related to job performance and not to gender,
    it seems like to me that it's placing the burden of proof on the defendants(business) to prove they are innocent; not on the accuser to prove guilt.
  •  good luck enforcing it (0+ / 0-)
  •  It's already illegal in Vermont. (0+ / 0-)

    Under a law that was signed by Republican Governor Jim Douglas in 2006, it's already illegal for employers to do this in Vermont:

    (B) No employer may do any of the following:

    (i) Require, as a condition of employment, that an employee refrain from disclosing the amount of his or her wages.

    (ii) Require an employee to sign a waiver or other document that purports to deny the employee the right to disclose the amount of his or her wages.

    (iii) Discharge, formally discipline, or otherwise discriminate against an employee who discloses the amount of his or her wages.
  •  I suppose it isn't as glamorous, but... (0+ / 0-)

    it would also be nice to discuss the income disparity between single and married employees.

    Or is that just a mirage?

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 12:24:49 PM PST

  •  Privacy regarding your salary? Already gone. (0+ / 0-)

    See this story at

    It seems that while you're not supposed to discuss your salary with anyone, your employer feels it's perfectly fine to sell that information to others.

    Anyone want to bet when the class action suits begin over this? (It'll be one hell of a big class.)

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