Equal Pay Debate Will Fall to Next President
With the passing of longtime anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly, famous for her long and prominent history opposing women’s rights and equal pay, perhaps now is the perfect time to consider the impact the election could have on equal pay, especially since this election could potentially result in the first female president of the US.
According to 2014 Census data, the most recent available, women earn an average of 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. This disparity is even greater for African American women (60 cents per dollar) and Latinas (54 cents per dollar). While the Obama administration has attempted to push forward legislation to address pay inequality, this issue will most likely fall to our next president.
Traditional political party roles on the idea of equal pay for equal work were *almost* shattered this election season when Ivanka Trump announced that her father Donald Trump, current Republican nominee, “will fight for equal pay for equal work.” While Trump has said that “women who work as hard as men [should] make the same if [they] do as good a job,” this statement does not mean that Trump plans to fight for gender based equal pay. In fact, Trump stands firmly with Republican party leaders, many of whom are dedicated to defeating potential gender equity pay laws.
Working to ensure that employers provide equal pay for equal work has traditionally been a priority for the Democratic Party. Republicans have historically opposed any laws that would infringe on an employer’s ability to reward its workers on the basis of merit with minimal government interference. Those positions have held true so far in the 2016 presidential election season.
Hillary Clinton, who sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act during her time as a Senator, is still pushing to pass the act, which goes beyond equal pay to cover paid family leave and minimum wage increases among other things. While the Paycheck Fairness Act sounds like a simple and fair fix, opponents say that it could create excessive legislation that would create a burden for small businesses.
Earlier this year the Obama administration proposed executive action through the EEOC to require employers with 100+ workers to provide detailed information about employee earnings. Under the proposed law, employers would need to break down pay information by gender, race and ethnicity so that pay gaps are easily identified.  For more than 50 years, employers have reported workforce data by race, ethnicity, sex and job category. This proposal would add summary data reported by pay ranges and hours worked. Under the most recent proposal, the report on 2017 employment information would be due by March 31, 2018.
While no one knows what this requirement might look like after the election, or if it will even exist, legal experts recommend reviewing current pay structures to identify and then address or justify areas of pay disparity.