Democratic strategists are panicking that they are losing woman. As a result, Dems have renewed their push for "pay equality." Republicans who oppose the deceptively-titled "Paycheck Fairness Act" will be described as waging a "war on women." This is part of a theme of the Obama campaign that we saw a few months ago.
It's the same slur that Dems used against Republicans who believe in the free exercise clause of the first amendment. Obama administration has assault that right by mandating that employers pay for insurance of abortion-inducing drugs, even where that violates the employer's conscience. Anyone who supports free exercise of religion, so the script goes, is waging a "war on women."
The so-called Paycheck Fairness Act will hurt small businesses, including those owned by women. It will chill job creation, including jobs that women might want to apply for. That's the implicit sexism in the Democrats' attempt to energize the feminists: the Paycheck Fairness Act assumes that women are victims. Its logic also assumes that all employers are male.
The legislation is a boon to trial lawyers, however -- the sort of law that will make John Edwards weep with joy over not losing his law license. The law seeks to follow up on the Lilly Ledbetter "Fair Pay Act," which gave women extra time to sue for discrimination. That is, it gave the trial lawyers a longer statute of limitations to troll for clients.
This most recent legislation would increase the incentive for trial lawyers to sue by allowing women to sue for punitive damages. That's where trial lawyers make their money.
And the suits would be easier to win, because the law would shift the burden of persuasion from the plaintiff-woman to the defendant-employers. Thus, employers would literally be presumed guilty of pay discrimination unless proven innocent. If, for example, an employer paid a man extra money because the nature of his duty was hazardous, for example, the onus will now be on the employer to prove that this was not discriminatory against women. Same for pay differentials based on level of education, time of the shift, local market differentials or profitability.
Make no mistake: this is the Obama administration telling businesses how to do business.
No wonder the legislation has been opposed by so many organization that promote private enterprise:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce; American Bakers Association; American Bankers Association; American Hotel & Lodging Association; Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc.; College and University Professional Association for Human Resources; Food Marketing Institute; HR Policy Association; International Public Management Association for Human Resources; National Association of Manufacturers; National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors; National Council of Chain Restaurants; National Council of Textile Organizations; National Federation of Independent Business; National Public Employer Labor Relations Association; National Restaurant Association; National Retail Federation; National Roofing Contractors Association; Printing Industries of America; Retail Industry Leaders Association; Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council; Society for Human Resource Management.
Nor is this legislation just a problem just for large employers: even businesses with as few as two employees would be subject to this law.
It is wrong to discriminate against an employee based on gender. It is also illegal -- has been for years. Employers who discriminate can be held accountable without the federal government micromanaging small businesses and without throwing an election year treat to the trail lawyers.
A weak economy hurts everyone, women included. Given the lousy job numbers report that came out a few days ago, the last thing this economy needs is more red-tape to discourage small businesses from hiring.