NR Digital

Sex, Workers

by Andrew Biggs
Gender discrimination does not explain the male-female pay gap

President Obama recently urged the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would make it easier for women to sue their employers for gender discrimination. The act is needed, Obama said in a written statement, because “even in 2010, women make only 77 cents for every dollar that men earn.” The House passed the legislation in 2009, but the Senate has yet to act.

Whereas under current law, women who sue their employers must prove gender bias, the Paycheck Fairness Act would shift the burden to employers to show that gender pay differences are not caused by bias. A woman could allege bias even if her better-compensated male coworkers were better educated and more highly skilled, forcing the employer to show that those extra qualifications were necessary for the job. The bill also would automatically sign women up for class-action gender-discrimination suits.

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