NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 1, 2008

The government has a legitimate role in protecting women from discrimination, but should allow employers to decide how they value the work performed for them.  The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA, H.R. 1338) - which strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and expands damages under the Equal Pay Ac -- undermines this policy, says the Heritage Foundation.

For example:

  • In the name of protecting women from discrimination, the Act permits the government and the courts to micromanage employers, tying them up in a sea of red tape.
  • The Act gives a windfall to trial lawyers, exposing employers to unlimited punitive damages for unintentional mistakes.
  • Any financial benefits reaped by trial lawyers, however, will come at the expense of workers, whose wages will fall in order to cover the increased cost of legal liability insurance.
  • The Act also obliges the government to adopt junk science by requiring the use of a highly flawed survey while declaring the best scientific practices for assessing discrimination superfluous.

The PFA will hurt the very workers it is meant to help, says Heritage.

In the United States, men earn more, on average, than women.  The median man working full time in the United States earns $741 a week, compared to $600 a week for the median woman.  This gender gap is not the result of rampant discrimination, says Heritage.  Rather, it exists because men and women often work in different jobs and have different qualifications.  When work experience, education, and occupation are taken into account, the average woman makes 98 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

The gender gap has also closed substantially in recent years.  In recent decades women have attained more education, gained more experience, and shifted towards higher paying occupations.  As they have done so, the gender gap has narrowed.  Such data indicates that employers indeed provide equal pay for equal work, says Heritage.

Source: James Sherk," Paycheck Fairness Act Unfairly Burdens Employees and Employers," Heritage Foundation, WebMemo #2007, July 30, 2008.

For text: 


Browse more articles on Economic Issues