Monday, April 09, 2012

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Women Deserve Less Pay

The Nazgul governor, Republican Scott Walker:
...signed a bill repealing the state’s 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which allowed victims of workplace discrimination to seek damages in state courts.
So it goes. The repealed law applied to all sorts of people who might have been discriminated against but the reason for it really was those caterpillars women. The law was enacted because the gender gap was pretty large in the state of Wisconsin. The law seemed to have had an impact:
The Equal Pay law wasn’t just about women—it also offered protection from discrimination based on race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors. But it was enacted largely in response to a large gap between men and women’s compensation, one that was worse than average in Wisconsin—in 2009 the state ranked 36th in the country in terms of workplace gender parity.
Wisconsin’s law was similar to many others—indeed, almost every state in the country has anti-discrimination laws that augment federal legislation. “It’s often easier, faster, and cheaper to pursue a claim of discrimination in state court than in federal court,” says Linda Meric, national director of 9to5, an organization devoted to working-women’s issues. “The law is different in each state, but Wisconsin was certainly in the mainstream in having a law that provided remedies for employees who experienced discrimination on the job.”
To bring a suit under the law, a plaintiff first had to go through a state-level administrative process to prove discrimination. It was rigorous enough that in the two years the law was in effect, not a single equal-pay lawsuit was filed. Still, the law’s supporters believe it has been effective in spurring businesses to pay women more fairly. Thus by 2010, the state had climbed to 24th in the national gender-parity rankings, with women making 78 percent as much as men, compared to 77 percent nationally. “Since the law was put into place, employers actually took notice and were very conscious of the fact that they had to follow this law or they were at risk of a lawsuit,” Sinicki argues.

Do read the whole article for the counterarguments by those who like this repeal. They are so delicious, amounting to deciding on any potential discrimination case beforehand by simply stating that women don't care that much for money and that women choose to earn less when they have children and become responsible for them.

That the court procedure is intended to weed out cases where discrimination cannot be proved doesn't seem to matter at all!

What's also delicious is that this is one of the few fields of research where non-experts simply *know* the facts! Ann Coulter has looked into this! Ann Coulter, hmmm. That many, many qualified economists have published actual studies on the topic and that all the best studies do show an unexplained gender gap in earnings doesn't appear to matter. Because women simply never face labor market discrimination, never.

I'm not arguing here that the gender gap in wages wouldn't have many causes or that one of them would not be women's current child-care responsibilities. The overall effects of gender work through many different channels. But to imply that women's own choices are the only reason why women earn less, on average, well, that is biased. And anyone who quotes Ann Coulter as an economics expert and then discounts a study by the American Association of University Women as biased! At least the latter used actual economists in the analysis stages and presented the evidence for anyone to critique.

What is the overall impact of this repeal? It makes discrimination cheaper than it was in that Nazgul state of Wisconsin by removing one potential cost from those who wish to discriminate against some group of workers. And every discriminator can just echo the idea that women don't care that much for money and that women make different choices, all the time kicking some woman's butt out of the door.

It's hard not to see all this as a part of a war against women, or at least against independent women with some rights over their lives. Republican politicians are weird people.