Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Repeal of Equal Pay Act encourages unfairness in Wisconsin

Gov. Walker signs law that eliminates incentives to pay workers fairly

How does one legitimately justify ending equal pay for women? In signing the repeal of the state's Equal Pay Act, Gov. Scott Walker has thrust Wisconsin into membership within a small club, becoming one of only a handful of states without gender equality protections.

Yes, federal protections continue to exist. But these protections barely do anything to deter companies from unfairly shorting their female workers. Women in Wisconsin can now only sue for back-pay, making it worthwhile for businesses to try and get away with paying women less. At best (at least for these companies), they succeed; at worst, they're forced to compensate their workers for income they'd have paid anyway, were they to treat women fairly.

Punitive damages -- which were removed through the repeal -- create economic incentives to treat everyone fairly. Without those conditions, it's almost in a business's best interests to TRY and be sneaky, hoping that no one will notice discrepancies in pay.

But the repeal doesn't just limit what damages can be recouped from unfair compensation -- it also makes it more difficult for women to sue.

The Equal Pay Act previously allowed women the ability to sue in the state court system. Women in every county throughout the state could file a complaint relatively near their homes.

But because the law was repealed, only federal courts will suffice now -- and the only two federal courthouses in Wisconsin are in Milwaukee and Dane Counties, which only represent about a quarter of the state's population.

In eliminating the Equal Pay Act, Walker has incentivized discriminatory pay practices in our state while simultaneously making it more difficult for women to seek a redress of their rightly owed compensation. This was supposedly done to lure more businesses to our state...but are these really the types of companies we want here anyway?

This issue only reinforces the need to remove Gov. Walker from office in June. Those who value equality in pay for equal work performed can do no greater deed in the coming months than committing themselves to voting against Walker in his recall election.


  1. Ultimately, companies are in business to make money. They want the best person on the job to make them money, regardless of gender. There are several ways for women who are discriminated against to seek compensation, state and federal. This so called "war on women" is phony.

    1. That's exactly the point Anonymous, companies can get an equally qualified woman to do the same job as a man but pay the woman less thereby making THEMSELVES more money! And if you weren't paying attention, there is now no way to seek compensation on a STATE level, only federal. If you're going to comment on something at least take the time to read the article.

  2. Thanks to Scott Walker, Wisconsin is becoming the worst of the Midwest
    States. His wars on women, economy, workers, social programs, education and couple this with the loss of jobs prove the point.