Today on Fox & Friends, Fox business "analyst" Stuart Varney kicked off his Monday by getting all worked up at the prospect that Senate could finally be poised to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act -- which strengthens laws prohibiting sex discrimination in wages. Varney sniffed, "You've already got gender pay-equality laws on the books," so "[w]hy do you need this whole extra level of intrusion into business?" I'll tell you why -- because the current laws aren't working.
While the pay gap between men and women has been slowly shrinking over the decades, it still exists, and it is still significant. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor statistics, "Women who usually worked full time had median weekly earnings of $662, or 81.4 percent of the $813 median for men, in the third quarter of 2010." A recent GAO report similarly found that women in management positions made 81 cents to their male counterparts' dollar in 2007, adjusting for "age, hours worked beyond full time, and education."
The Paycheck Fairness Act is designed to strengthen current equal-pay laws by, among other things, "prohibit[ing] retaliation" from employees "for inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of the employee of another employee." It also "[a]uthorizes the Secretary [of Labor] to make grants to eligible entities for negotiation skills training programs for girls and women." These actions are particularly important because much of the wage gap is blamed on those two factors. Women don't know what their co-workers make, and thereby, they don't know if they're getting paid less for the same work. And women are less likely to negotiate for higher salaries and benefit packages.
Of course, none of this matters to Varney and some of his News Corp. brethren.
To them, this law is pointless, invasive, burdensome, a gift to trial lawyers, and, according to Varney, the unions. A January 2009 Wall Street Journal editorial trivialized the need for the legislation by falsely claiming that "most of these pay disparities are explained by relative experience, schooling or job characteristics."
It's probably worth noting that News Corp. itself has quite the history of being sued over allegations of discrimination. On September 30, the EEOC announced a lawsuit against Fox News for retaliation against homeland security correspondent Catherine Herridge. The EEOC alleged that Fox News retaliated against Herridge after she complained about discrimination by asking her to sign a contract that included an assurance that she would not allege discrimination in the future. Fox News also settled a sex discrimination suit that alleged a Fox News vice president had "used obscene terms to describe women and their body parts."
In October 2009, associate editor Sandra Guzman was fired from the New York Post shortly after speaking out against a controversial editorial cartoon that was widely criticized for having racial undertones. Following her termination, Guzman filed a lawsuit against the Post's parent company, News Corp., for sexual and racial discrimination and harassment. Following Guzman's lawsuit, two other New York Post employees alleged racial discrimination.