Gov. Walker signs law that eliminates incentives to pay workers fairlyHow 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But because the law was repealed, only federal courts will suffice now -- and the only two federal courthouses in Wisconsin are in Milwaukee and Dane Counties, which only represent about a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.