On Tuesday, I criticized the assumption that people should receive equal pay for unequal work, such as requiring the average woman to be paid exactly the same amount as the average man even though the average male employee works more hours than the average female employee. (I am talking here about averages, not generalizing about every individual case; there are obviously male part-time employees, just as there are women who work 80 hours a week.)
But apparently this point was lost on some people. Collin Maessen of Real Sceptic tweeted my blog post, with the preface, “apparently CEI is against regulations that allow women to earn the same wages for the same work as men do.” I didn’t write about such regulations at all. To me, it’s not “the same work” if it’s not the same number of hours. Why should a full-time employee be paid as little as a part-time employee? Why should an employee who works 60 hours per week be paid the same as an employee who works 40 hours per week?
I did not discuss, much less criticize, the existing laws that require that women be paid “the same wages for the same work as men do,” which include the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I did criticize a proposed regulation, the Paycheck Fairness Act (which has not yet become law), but I criticized it precisely because it did NOT simply require that women be paid the same wages for the same work as men, but rather “would require equal pay for unequal work.” The only other law or regulation I mentioned, which I mentioned only in passing, was a law that did not change substantive law, and did not change whether or when women must be paid the same wages, but merely extended the statute of limitations for suing under one existing law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, that previously had the shortest deadline for suing.
(That particular statutory deadline under Title VII was extended in a 2009 law known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I noted that that particular law “was enacted based on false claims about the facts and ruling contained in a Supreme Court decision dealing with pay discrimination.” Contrary to false claims, the Supreme Court’s decision expressly left open in footnote 10 the possibility that employees could sue many years after pay discrimination happened under a “discovery rule” if they previously had not discovered the discrimination; but the case involved a plaintiff, Lilly Ledbetter, who had suspected pay discrimination in 1992, as she admitted in her sworn deposition, yet inexplicably waited until years later, in 1998, to file an EEOC complaint, resulting in a court ruling that her complaint was untimely, and would be untimely even under a generous “discovery rule” that extended her time for suing until she learned of the discrimination. In response to that ruling, Congress passed a law, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, extending the time for suing under Title VII. Even before the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act in 2009, people could sue over pay discrimination not only under Title VII, but also under another law, the Equal Pay Act, that had a longer statutory deadline, typically three years, and arguably had more generous accrual rules as well (which address when the clock starts ticking on a statutory deadline for suing). Ledbetter’s lawyers’ doomed her case by inexplicably not relying on the Equal Pay Act to press her claim before the Supreme Court, despite its possibly more generous accrual rules, and its longer deadline for suing.)