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On behalf of hundreds of thousands of FreedomWorks members nationwide, I urge you to VOTE NO on H.R. 12: the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill purports to enforce more strictly the wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to remedy perceived discrimination in the payments of wages on the basis of sex or other reasons. H.R. 12 is based more on the fallacy that the disparity between wages for men and women are solely the result of discrimination than the fact that there are market forces at work in the labor market that determine fair wages for all work.
Most differences in the wages of average men and women can be explained by career interruptions and markets that determine how valuable a field is, not how valuable a gender is. Pay inequalities solve themselves as people leave one field for other higher paying fields, and wages in the original field rise as demand stays constant yet supply decreases. Free markets responding to societal needs can do a better job of determining salary than a government mandate.
In addition, H.R. 12 broadly expands the definition of “same establishment” so that employees in a lower-cost-of –living area could sue to be paid the same as employees in a higher-cost-of living area, further restricting the free-market ability of employers to set wages.
H.R. 12 permits unlimited compensatory and punitive damages for private-sector employers, without regard for employer intent. At the same time, the bill makes it easier to create class action lawsuits by considering any employee to be automatically part of a class-action suit, unless they were able to discover the suit and take steps to opt-out.
Together, these provisions are an invitation to increasing lawsuits with no end in sight for compensation. During these uncertain economic times, we should not be heaping more financial burdens on our business institutions and taking away the power of employers to make sound business decisions – all because of a misunderstood statistic.
And finally, under the auspices of stopping gender discrimination, H.R. 12 creates a new grant program, specifically for helping women negotiate wages. Not only is this constitutionally problematic, but clearly discriminatory by restricting the program to one gender.
We will count your vote on H.R. 12 as a KEY VOTE when calculating the FreedomWorks Economic Freedom Scorecard for 2009. The Economic Freedom Scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the Jefferson Award, which recognizes members of Congress with voting records that support economic freedom.