Photo By: 
Gage Skidmore

Kamala Harris Takes on the Gender Pay Gap

Her campaign released a plan to end the pay gap and hold bad employers accountable

Brian Young's picture
May 21, 2019

Kamala Harris has already released her plans for strengthening unions by banning Right to Work and she is now out with a plan to reduce and eliminate the gender pay gap.

The plan, which she is calling the most aggressive equal pay proposal in history, would fine corporations, with more than 100 employees, that don’t address pay disparity. The funds raised would be put towards funding universal paid family and medical leave programs. Under Harris’ proposal companies would be issued a 1% profit fine for every 1% less that they pay women.

Currently, women make on average $0.79 for every $1.00 that men make. Of course, not all of this disparity is from systemic gender bias, meaning that there are often jobs that are “traditionally female” that pay an equal wage for men and women, but just pay less overall. However, there are still many employers that continue to pay men at a higher rate than women for doing the same job.

The big shift in Harris’ plan is in the enforcement. Currently, a worker who is being paid less due to their gender would have to file a report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or file a lawsuit before action can take place. Under Harris’ plan, companies would have to provide data every two years that they are in compliance and are paying men and women equally. This change is especially important. Over the last few years, many companies have begun adopting this policy and have begun correcting wage gap issues on their own. By requiring this disclosure the hope is that most companies will fix any pay discrepancies before the EEOC needs to issue fines.

In announcing the plan, Harris also announced that she won’t wait for Congress to approve it before she takes action. She promised to use an Executive Order to mandate that federal contractors' institute this policy immediately. Congress would then need to pass a law requiring other companies to start reporting this data and ending the gender pay gap.

According to the Harris campaign, over the first ten years of the program, fines could exceed $180 billion. That would form a huge funding base for the paid family and medical leave program, like the one that has been proposed in the FAMILY Act, which is currently making its way through the Senate.

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