Wednesday, October 1, 2008

EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK --NOT

The self-proclaimed feminist from Wasilla has now allied with John McCain and most of the Republican Party in opposing the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Equal pay for equal work, still a pipe dream for most women workers, will only become a reality if it can be enforced. In her interview with Katie Couric, Palin raises the bogeyman of trial lawyers manipulating guileless women into filing costly lawsuits against employers. She scores cheap political points by pointing her accustory finger against the very lawyers whose knowledge of the law, negotiating skills, and courtroom strategies are essential to fighting workplace discrimination. The threat of litigation is an important tool in holding discriminatory employers responsible for their actions--and in deterring them from creating two-tiered workplaces.

In a particularly inarticulate sentence, Palin states: "Again, thankfully with the existing laws we have on the books, they better be enforced." But who will do the enforcing? And what happens to women like Lily Ledbetter who didn't learn of their bosses' discriminatory policies until it was too late to sue? They are screwed--and the discriminators are rewarded.

Palin's position here represents the essentially symbolic nature of conservative anti-discrimination policies. Denounce discrimination but offer toothless remedies. Why? Because in the end, the interests of business trump all.

Here's Palin's squirrelly response to Katie Couric's questions on fair pay:


Couric: Where do you stand on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?

Palin: I’m absolutely for equal pay for equal work. The Ledbetter pay act - it was gonna turn into a boon for trial lawyers who, I believe, could have taken advantage of women who were many, many years ago who would allege some kind of discrimination. Thankfully, there are laws on the books, there have been since 1963, that no woman could be discriminated against in the workplace in terms of anything, but especially in terms of pay. So, thankfully we have the laws on the books and they better be enforced.

Couric: The Ledbetter act sort of lengthens the time a woman can sue her company if she's not getting equal pay for equal work. Why should a fear of lawsuits trump a woman's ability to do something about the fact that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. And that's today.

Palin: There should be no fear of a lawsuit prohibiting a woman from making sure that the laws that are on the books today are enforced. I know in a McCain-Palin administration we will not stand for any measure that would result in a woman being paid less than a man for equal work.

Couric: Why shouldn’t the Ledbetter act be in place? You think it would result in lawsuits brought by women years and years ago. Is that your main problem with it?

Palin: It would have turned into a boon for trial lawyers. Again, thankfully with the existing laws we have on the books, they better be enforced. We won't stand for anything but that. We won't stand for any discrimination in the workplace - that there isn't any discrimination in America.

h/t to Kathy G.