"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Dems’ So-Called “Fairness” Bill: “The Trial Lawyer Paycheck Act” “Would Harm Employers Of All Sizes”‏

June 5th, 2012 by mopns · No Comments

This afternoon, the Senate will vote on whether to begin debate on a bill Democrats are deceptively calling the “Paycheck Fairness Act,” but in fact the bill is yet another in a series of Democrat show votes that’s designed to fail for political purposes. Moreover, the bill’s substance would hurt employers, impose ever more regulations, and is yet another giveaway to trial lawyers.

A coalition of jobs groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the National Association of Manufacturers, wrote to Senate leaders opposing the bill. They wrote, “The provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act would harm employers of all sizes, as the bill would apply to employers with as few as two employees. The threat the bill poses to small business is particularly troubling given the draconian penalties found in this legislation . . . .”

In a must-read editorial today, The Wall Street Journal explains what this Democrat bill is really about: “Majority Leader Harry Reid is back with this trial lawyer doozy [the Paycheck Fairness Act] just in time for 2012 election ads. Democrats last rolled out this attempt to equalize pay between men and women in 2010, when it also failed to get enough votes. Funny how this always seems to come up in election years. Mr. Reid knows the bill is doomed again, and that’s more or less the point. The White House and Democrats will be happier if it doesn’t pass.”

The Washington Post acknowledges this, writing, “The measure will fail, as intended, because at its core it is not so much a legislative vehicle as a political one . . . .”

Importantly, the WSJ editors point out, “The U.S. already has two broad federal laws—the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1963 Equal Pay Act—that prohibit gender-based pay discrimination. In case that wasn’t enough, Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act in 2009 that as recently as March Mr. Obama said ‘ensures equal pay for equal work.’ What changed in the last three months?”

On the substance, the WSJ editors explain Democrats’ “bill would rewrite labor law to require businesses to comply with a raft of new regulations in which businesses would have to justify their pay decisions. The practical effect would be to restrict flexibility in employee compensation, as employers got rid of bonus programs and other pay perks lest they open themselves up to discrimination claims. The bill ought to be called the ‘Trial Lawyer Paycheck Act,’ since it is a recipe for a class-action boom. The law automatically lists women as plaintiffs in class actions when lawyers sue employers, thereby requiring female employees to opt-out of litigation with which they don’t agree. Businesses would be treated as guilty until shown to be innocent, having to prove in court that their pay practices aren’t the result of workplace bias. The legislation contains no caps on damage awards, allowing plaintiffs to claim unlimited punitive damages even in cases of unintentional discrimination.”

And it’s not just The Wall Street Journal editors who’ve found this bill to be ill-considered legislation. The Chicago Tribune’s editors called it “grossly intrusive on decision-making by private businesses” and emphasized, “At least one group would get a fatter paycheck from the Paycheck Fairness Act: trial lawyers.” A Washington Post editorial called the bill “[a] flawed approach” that’s “not the right fix.” In fact, the editors said the bill “risks tilting the scales too far against employers and would remove, rather than restore, a sense of balance.” Even The Boston Globe editors wrote, “The bill would create too strong a presumption in favor of discrimination over other, equally plausible explanations . . . .” And, they said, “companies are right to be concerned that this bill, as written, is too deep an intrusion.”

The WSJ editors are unsparing in their conclusion: Democrats’  “Paycheck Fairness Act” “[is] a walking advertisement for gridlock, a partisan stunt that would hurt the economy for no other reason than to pay off the Democratic donors in the tort bar.

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