Let’s assume that John and Jane have identical characteristics (education, work experience, etc.) except for gender. ABC Company makes offers of employment to John and Jane on the same day, for the same position, for the same starting salary: $45,000. Jane accepts the offer, but John negotiates the salary, and ends up with $50,000. Under the current equal pay laws, there’s no problem; John is earning more because he negotiated and Jane did not. Makes sense, right? Under the Paycheck Fairness Act, ABC Company would be guilty of gender discrimination.
Here’s another example. Assume that Sam and Sally have the same education, work experience, etc., and are both hired by WidgetCo on the same day. WidgetCo sets Sam and Sally’s starting salary at $2,500 more than they were making at their previous job. Sam was earning $37,500 at his previous job, and Sally was earning $36,000; their starting salaries at WidgetCo are $40,000 and $38,500. Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Under the Paycheck Fairness Act, WidgetCo would be guilty of gender discrimination.
One final example. Assume that Brad and Bridget both work for Alpha Inc., have the same job title, same level of responsibility, etc., and they are both earning $100,000 per year. Brad asks for a 5% raise, but Bridget doesn’t ask for a raise. Brad gets the raise and ends up earning more than Bridget. Again, no problems here, right? Wrong – under the Paycheck Fairness Act, Alpha Inc. would be guilty of gender discrimination.
When I worked for the State, there were plenty of people who came in with starting salaries higher than me for relatively similar work and responsibilities. In some cases, I had more responsibilities or experience. Irritating, for sure, but enough to complain to the government for a law about? Those other employees negotiated and made their values known to the bosses and the organization and they were rewarded for their work — good for them.
Me? I acquired some raises here and there, too. But, I finally left to pursue my own dreams of running a business and when I left, I was still making less than some others equal to me in education, experience and responsibilities.
Maybe I should have asked for an act of Congress instead.