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Harris Announces Plan to Fine Companies Over Gender Wage Gap

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) released a proposal Monday to combat gender wage disparities that would require companies with more than 100 employees to prove they are paying men and women equally for analogous work to avoid a fine.

Rather than forcing employees who face discrimination to sue their employer, Harris’s plan would require that companies obtain an “equal pay certification” every two years. Companies that fail to obtain the certification would be fined 1 percent of their profits for every 1 percent difference between the wages accrued by male and female workers.

“For too long, we’ve put the burden entirely on workers to hold corporations accountable for pay discrimination through costly lawsuits that are increasingly difficult to prove,” Harris’s campaign said in the announcement Monday. “We’ve let corporations hide their wage gaps, but forced women to stand up in court just to get the pay they’ve earned.”

In 2017, women working full time earned roughly 80 percent of their male counterparts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — but that widely-cited figure reflects varied employment choices between men and women. It is not the case that women made 80 cents on the dollar for the same work as men, as politicians and pundits so often claim.

Harris’s proposal, which is expected to generate $180 billion in new revenue over ten years, would require congressional approval. Even if Congress fails to act, however, Harris would unilaterally require government contractors to obtain “equal pay certifications” or be barred from bidding on contracts worth more than $500,000.

The Republican National Committee responded to Harris’s proposal by emphasizing the economic gains women have made under President Trump, which have, according to RNC press secretary Blair Ellis, obviated the need for potentially disruptive regulation.

“Supporting women in the workforce and encouraging their personal growth and development is something President Trump has been doing since day one, and it’s why women’s unemployment has dropped to the lowest level since 1953 and wage growth has hit a 10-year high,” Ellis said in a statement provided to National Review. “We don’t need to strap new regulations, burdens, or fines on businesses to create opportunities for women, and President Trump’s economic record is a testament to that.” 

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