Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Unequal Pay

A slim majority (5-4) of the Supreme Court has decided that there is a very slim window --180 days! of opportunity to bring forth a lawsuit alleging wage (equal pay) and sex discrimination (Ledbetter v Good Year Tire and Rubber).
This is surely a win for corporations and businesses that discriminate based on sex (and race) regarding wages. How many of us know what our colleagues are being paid? How many of us discuss our pay and raises?
While the Supreme Court held that "the later effects of past discrimination" do not warrant "restart [ing] the clock" on an EEOC filing, the effects of past discrimination keep on effecting those who received lower starting wages and lower raises throughout their employment. Because it is usually women who receive the lower starting pay, and lower raises throughout their working life ( for instance, even if they receive the same 3% cross the board raise, 3% of a lower pay that is substantially lower, remains substantially lower) and this effects social security and other pension benefits. Since women live longer than males, this means women are living longer on less.

The initial result of this ruling is that there should be more immediate contests over salaries and raises (though as Justice Ginsberg points out wage discrimination happens incrementally and are hard to uncover). The remedy, I guess, is for all new hires to require notification of all other new hires salaries, and throughout one's career, salaries and raises should be public information.

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