Why Pay Equity is an Irrational Job Killer

Liberals have been pushing “pay equity” laws for some time. Many of them are already in effect. Pay equity would require employers to pay women what men receive if their educational standards, work experience, and time on the job are equal. “Equal pay for equal work,” as the saying goes. These new proposed laws would require employers to reveal what every employee gets paid. Who will be the judge of what’s equitable? If this law ever passes, it will be a lawsuit free-for-all.

“Pay equity” is similar to the minimum wage. No matter what a person’s skill level or experience, minimum wage laws require that everybody gets paid at least so much.

This sounds good on the surface. Why shouldn’t someone with the same skills, education, and experience get paid the same?

First, it’s no business of the government how much an employer pays anyone. If I want to pay someone a dollar an hour, I should be permitted to do so. Will I get anyone to work for a dollar an hour? Probably not. What if an unskilled person is willing to work for me at less than the minimum wage? I can’t hire him, so he or she goes without a job. How do I know if he or she is worth paying the minimum wage? Since training takes time, and time is money, an employer can’t take the risk. It’s no wonder that teenage unemployment is so high.

Second, it shouldn’t matter to the government who I employ and for what reason. It’s my company. I’m taking the risk. I’m paying the bills. If I want to discriminate, I should be allowed to do so. A photography company did not want to photograph a homosexual “Commitment Ceremony.” The business was fined $7000 by the courts for discriminating.

Third, when an employer is forced to hire certain people for a particular wage, it’s those very people who often don’t get the job because of the fear of law suits. If I hire two people, one with more experience and a better education and one who has less experience and little education but who is better at doing the job, the way the law reads, I would have to pay them equally and give equal raises to both of them. Performance is subjective, but not in the eyes of the law. I’m better off taking a chance on the less experienced and less educated person.

Fourth, if a person, man or woman, is getting paid less for doing comparable work, then the simple thing to do is to go to the employer and ask for a raise. If the employer says no, the employee has three options, (1) stay put with the same salary at the same job, (2) look for a new job, or (3) start a new business. Maybe the employer can do better with a new employee and won’t have any problem with you quitting. Maybe you are indispensable and making the company a lot of money. In that case, you might get the raise. There is, of course, the third option: Go out on your own and start your own company and pay yourself and your own employees what you believe is equitable.

Fifth, pay inequity as it is presented by (mostly) feminists, is a myth. Men and women choose different career paths for a variety of reasons. Many women want flexibility in their jobs so they can have children. They might drop out of the workforce for a time in order to raise children. Some women choose jobs that give them more freedom in their career paths because of family considerations. This is one of the reasons there is “pay disparity” between men and women. Some jobs are harder for women to do no matter how “equal” men and women work at the same job. Men and women play basketball. Men get paid more. The same is true in most sports.

Sixth, once the government gets involved in determining what’s “fair,” the trial lawyers will have a field day.  We already have the EEOC making it difficult for employers on the issue of “discrimination” in terms of sex, handicap, religion, etc. We don’t need any more government intrusion.

One last point, women are making their way as entrepreneurs. The rise of female-owned businesses may be the result of past discrimination, but it’s most likely related to the fact that women got their training in mostly male-dominated companies, learned what they needed to know, started businesses that became attractive to investors who saw ways they could make money. Consider this from an article that appeared in yesterday’s USA Today (June 5, 2012):

[A]n emerging class of early-stage tech start-up executives is helping dispel the notion that there isn’t a leading role for them in the male-dominated valley. Company founders and leaders are coming out of Google, Salesforce.com and elsewhere for the excitement of shaping a young business.

This is being done without the help of “pay equity” laws. Government . . . keep out!