07 April 2012

Equal Pay and The Evil That Men Do

Wisconsin’s Repeal of Equal Pay Rights Adds to Battles for Women


Governor Scott Walker signed a repeal of his state’s workplace-discrimination law—the latest battleground over the issues that matter most to women.

On Thursday, with little fanfare, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a bill repealing the state’s 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which allowed victims of workplace discrimination to seek damages in state courts. In doing so, he demonstrated that our political battles over women’s rights aren’t just about sex and reproduction—they extend to every aspect of women’s lives.

Scott Walker
Steven Senne / AP Photo
CtFreeRadicals Caption: Walker uses Wrong Finger

The Equal Pay law wasn’t just about women—it also offered protection from discrimination based on race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors. But it was enacted largely in response to a large gap between men and women’s compensation, one that was worse than average in Wisconsin—in 2009 the state ranked 36th in the country in terms of workplace gender parity.

“The idea that pay discrimination is a myth is a myth in and of itself,” says Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women’s Law Center. “Study after study has shown the exact opposite.”
As it happens, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is from Wisconsin. He’s compared the notion of a war on women to a war on caterpillars. If he wants to know why some women have bought into this ostensibly preposterous idea, he might take a look at what’s going on at home.

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