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Gender Wars: Make Pay Equal


The U.S. Senate is finally getting around to considering a bill dealing with equal pay for men and women. The New York Times reports that the Senate will be looking at an "equal pay for equal work" bill, similar to one that the House passed late last year. This legislation has been at least in part linked to the May Supreme Court ruling (5-4!) that sided with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in a wage discrimination lawsuit. A former employee of the company filed a discrimination claim in 1998 (after she'd retired) when she realized she had been paid less than her male counterparts for 20 years. While a jury agreed with her, the verdict was overturned in an appeal because she'd missed the 180-day deadline for employees to file such suits.

Of course, the woman didn't know about the wage discrimination and because of the company's policy of keeping salary information private, she had no way of finding out about it. Never mind all that; the Supreme Court put the final nail in her case's coffin.

According to The Times, the bill's supporters are encountering "resistance in the Senate and from the Bush administration, which argues it could spark a wave of lawsuits. Some Senate Republicans have reservations about the measure, but they intend to be careful in their opposition to avoid being portrayed as backing pay discrimination." No one would have to go through the trouble of portraying these as backing pay discrimination. They simply are backing this institutionalized form of prejudice. Imagine replacing "female" with, say, "Asian" or "Christian" in a similar situation. Would they let the fear of lawsuits hold them back even then?

The fact that it's 2008 and we're still wondering if men and women should earn the same salary for doing the same job is just plain embarrassing.

©1996-2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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