Media Give Carly Fiorina A Free-Pass On Opposition To Equal Pay Legislation

Mainstream media outlets are misrepresenting Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's stance on pay equality, reporting on her claim that she supports equal pay without noting her opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Carly Fiorina Gives Lip Service To Gender Pay Equality

Fiorina: “Of Course I Support Equal Pay.” Speaking at a May 27 press conference outside of one of Hillary Clinton's campaign stops in South Carolina, Carly Fiorina claimed that “of course,” she supports equal pay. [, 5/27/15]

But Fiorina Opposed Fair Pay Legislation

Fiorina Dismissed Fair Pay Legislation As “Tokens” And “Gestures” That “Don't Truly Help Women Advance.” In a 2014 interview with CNN, Fiorina dismissed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act as “tokens” that don't help women advance in the workplace: 

Fiorina: I think in some cases we just have to take on the facts. There are plenty of laws in place today that a woman can look to if she's truly discriminated against at work, where she's actually earning less for the same job as her male counterpart.

So the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- these are tokens. They're gestures. They don't truly help women advance.

We can't avoid the factual arguments, because they're on our side. [CNN, 6/30/14]

Fiorina: Sufficient Pay Equality Protections “Exist On The Books Today.” During a January interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Fiorina disputed the necessity of the Paycheck Fairness Act, claiming that “laws exist on the books today” that are sufficient to help women facing discrimination. [PunditFact, 1/22/15]

Media Fail To Report On Fiorina's Record Of Opposition To Fair Pay Legislation

Time Failed To Contextualize Fiorina's Claim That “Of Course” She Supports Equal Pay For Equal Work. In a May 27 article outlining the details of Wednesday's South Carolina campaign stop, Time quoted Fiorina as saying that “of course” she supports equal pay for equal workbutfailedto mention her opposition to fair pay legislation that would further that goal. [, 5/27/15]

NY Times Only Mentioned Fiorina's Criticism Of Pay Disparity In Federal Offices While Failing To Note Her Opposition To Fair Pay Legislation. The New York Times reported Fiorina's criticism of pay disparity in federal offices but failed to report onherrecord of opposition to fair pay legislation:

Ms. Fiorina was only too glad to discuss immigration reform -- she criticized President Obama and Mrs. Clinton -- and equal pay. “A man can sit in a government office and watch pornography all day long,” and still earn more than a hard-working woman in the same job, she said. Women, she said, were “held to different standards.” [The New York Times, 5/27/15]

The Hill: Fiorina “Lamented...The Federal Government That She Believes Hold Women Back From Getting Equal Pay For Equal Work.” The Hill never mentioned Fiorina' past opposition to fair pay legislation, instead writingthat Fiorina “also lamented, during both her availability and her MSNBC interview, the seniority system at the federal government that she believes holds women back from getting equal pay for equal work”:

“A seniority system, which exists in the federal government, that allows a man to watch pornography all day long in the federal government and earn the same pay, pension, and benefits as a woman sitting next to him trying to do a good job, that is not equal pay for equal work,” she said on MSNBC. [The Hill, 5/27/15]

The Fair Pay Legislation Opposed By Fiorina Provides Important Tools For Women To Combat Pay Inequality

Paycheck Fairness Act Would Have Helped Fix Gender Wage Discrimination. Blocked by Senate Republicans, the Paycheck Fairness Act would have “provide[d] more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.” [, accessed 6/10/13]

NWLC: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Gives Workers More Time to Report Wage Discrimination. According to the National Women's Law Center, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act gives workers more time to report wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, national origin, and religion or disability. The ruling is especially important for workers who, like Lilly Ledbetter, only discovers years after their first paycheck that they are being paid less than their counterparts. [National Women's Law Center, 1/29/14]

Pay Inequality Persists Nationally And Across Sectors

Economic Policy Institute: “Women Still Earn Less Than Men Across The Board.” According to an April 7 report from the Economic Policy Institute, the women's hourly wages are still less than men's “across the board”:

The figure below shows hourly wages in 2014 for men and women across the wage distribution. At every decile, men out-earn women. At the median, women's hourly wages are only 83 percent of men's hourly wages.

women still earn less than men

Though the gap between men and women's wages is smaller for lower-wage earners, there is still a significant gender wage gap at all levels of the wage distribution, particularly at the middle and the top. To close this gender wage gap, women need to see wage growth faster than their male counterparts. Although women have seen modest wage gains in the last several decades, the main reason the gender wage gap has slowly narrowed is that the vast majority of men's wages have stagnated or declined. The best way to close the gender wage gap is for both men and women to see real wage increases, with women at a faster rate than men. Truthfully, all workers are sorely in need of a raise. [Economic Policy Institute, 4/7/15]