Another example of legislation that proves legislators’ abhorrent understanding of government’s role in our lives is the deceptively named “Fair Pay Act.” In the Senate, it’s S2635, and in the House, it’s H7694, which is (it’s depressing to note) cosponsored by Republican Doreen Costa (Exeter, North Kingstown).
Not satisfied with the law already on the books to forbid discrimination in employees’ pay based on sex, the legislation attempts to make the factors by which an employer can explain differences between individuals’ pay more rigid when appearing before government officials concerning a complaint. In essence, every business in the state would practically be forced to have a detailed catalog of adjustments for employees’ pay.
So, whereas before an employer could argue that a particular man had an edge in “seniority, experience, training, skill, or ability” over a female colleague, the law would require the company to have “a seniority system.” Other systems that employers would have to have in place are “a merit system,” “a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production,” and some way to demonstrate that some other “bona fide factor” exists.
Somehow, employers would have to be able to define every difference in the qualities that their employees have according to some sort of “system.” That things just seem to go better when John (or Jane, for that matter) is doing them would be insufficient.
The “bona fide factor” exemption is where things become truly objectionable, with this:
This defense shall not apply if the employee demonstrates that an alternative business practice exists that would serve the same business purpose without producing the wage differential.
Think about what this means. Based on the nature of the business, the company’s business model, and just the way that the people who own, work for, and patronize the company operate, the organization does something in a particular way. If this particular way of doing business happens to favor the unique qualities of a man in the organization over a particular woman, the woman can go to a faux judge in the Department of Labor and Training and get him or her to force the company to change the way it does business.
Companies could no longer just experiment and find ways to do things that seem to work in the most efficient way possible for that company. Rather, at the urging of a disgruntled employee, a bureaucrat in a state agency could insist that the business must try some other possible approach. The only burden to prove that it might work is the subjective judgment of the bureaucrat, and the process to undo the change would, it appears, be for the employer to do a careful study to prove that the second option is not working as well and to return to the bureaucracy to make that case.
Who really owns the business? This is completely out of keeping with the principles of our country. Indeed, it’s the sort of thinking that drains economies and pushes civilizations to collapse.