By the contents of their underpants

I’m against the prez on this one.

Obama told her story over and over when he campaigned for president: How Ledbetter, now 70, spent years working as a plant supervisor at a tire factory in Alabama. How, when she neared retirement, someone slipped her a pay schedule that showed her male colleagues were making much more money than she was. A jury found her employer, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, to be really, really guilty of pay discrimination.

But the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision led by the Bush appointees, threw out Ledbetter’s case, ruling that she should have filed her suit within 180 days of the first time Goodyear paid her less than her peers.

I think it’s immoral and, worse, probably to inefficient to pay someone less because of the colour of their skin or the contents of their underpants – but it shouldn’t be illegal.

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Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

One thought on “By the contents of their underpants”

  1. This is such an odd issue. It exists at a seam between ideology and reality.

    I see this as a rich people problem. I don’t see this happening much down at the local manufacturing plant. people are equally underpaid for equal toil. If you don’t have at least six digits in your salary, you are unlikely to run into this. Where this is more of an epidemic is at the long term career level.

    Part of hiring someone for a long term career position is investing money in training them with the understanding that they will be with you for the long haul. In simple economic terms this works because the combination of money and time invested in skills makes them unlikely to find better paying employment elsewhere.

    The problem arises in hormones. A certain percentage (lets say 10% for arguments sake since the actual number changes a lot based on situation) of women will find themselves overcome by the desire to have children, and then to stay home with them in order to raise them right. As a business it would then make more financial sense to avoid hiring women, so as to reduce your chance of losing your investment by 10%. The government frowns upon this, so employers have responded by taking the risk out of the salary. What we end up with is the difficult situation of employers having to tell a man, “sorry, we know you are the best choice for the job, but we are forced to hire a woman for this position”.

    I’m not advocating a position here, since I also can’t stomach the idea of paying women less under the assumption that they will leave when they likely will not, but I am tired of this being addressed as a sexist issue where men are doing something wrong. I don’t see this as an issue where women as a whole are being wronged, but one where men and women who choose career over child rearing are paying for those who didn’t. It is a simple clash of ideology and reality, and likely doesn’t have a right answer. I think all the legislating, litigating, and proselytizing are a waste of everyone’s time.

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