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There Ought to Be a Law

October 22nd, 2012

Marco Rubio is flashing his conservative credentials in the only way possible nowadays: by acting like an idiot.

“Just because they call a piece of legislation an equal pay bill doesn’t make it so,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “In fact, much of this legislation is, in many respects, nothing but an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits, which may not contribute at all whatsoever to increasing pay equity in the workplace.”

The 2009 law makes it easier for women to sue their employers if they’re being paid less than men for doing equal work. Rubio said he supports the principle but opposes the Ledbetter legislation as a way of achieving it.

“If you’re the most qualified person for the job, you should be able to get paid — you should get paid as much as your male counterpart,” he said. “Everyone agrees with that principle.”

Yes, what we need is a law which actually outlaws unequal pay! That would completely fix the problem, without any need for trivial stuff like a need for a means of redress!

If only there were a law on the books which makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate between employees on the basis of sex by paying women at a rate less than paid to men for equal work on jobs which require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions!

Oh, wait.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a United States federal law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex. …

The law provides (in part) that:

No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section [section 206 of title 29 of the United States Code] shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs[,] the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex [ . . . . ]

So… what Rubio is complaining about is that women, who, famously because of Ledbetter, were not able to get any form of redress if an employer cheated them for years or decades, now have the ability to do so.

He is claiming outright that the only effect the Ledbetter Act will have is to line the pockets of trial lawyers.

Hmm, let’s see. Before the Ledbetter Act, it was already illegal to discriminate, but if the employee found out, then there was, according to the Supreme Court, nothing that they could do about it, because, according to them, Congress had not made sufficent provision for redress.

So, what reason would there be for an employer who is already unscrupulous enough to discriminate by gender to not do so? As far as I can tell, none.

With the Ledbetter Act, however, they can now be sued for violating the law.

In short, there is now a reason for them not to discriminate.

Senator Rubio, am I going too fast for you?

Of course, Rubio likely knows this full well. The whole “trial lawyers” attack is now a conservative standard. People hate lawyers. Make them hate trial lawyers even more, because trial lawyers contribute to Democrats. Why? Because Democrats side with ordinary people who, when screwed by wealthy people hiding behind corporate shields, have only one way to get redress, which is to sue them. Which, as a by-product, profits trial lawyers.

So, instead of defending the fact that conservatives are really trying to protect wealthy people from any responsibility or liability for intentionally harming the public in any number of ways, instead pretend that its all about scummy trial lawyers.

Which is why Rubio is acting like an idiot.

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