Editorial: Equal pay bill is a waste of time and money

If you ever seek to land a government contract in Nevada — paving roads, scrubbing floors, selling typing paper — under a proposed law you will be guilty until proven innocent.

Assembly Bill 106, being sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel of Henderson, would prohibit government agencies in the state from contracting with any firm until it has received a “certificate of pay equity compliance” issued by the state Labor Commissioner declaring the company provides equal pay for equal work performed by men and women employees.

Never mind the fact the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 already proscribes pay discrimination based on gender.

The bill appears to be a sop to that widely touted canard that women doing the same work as men get paid less than 80 percent as much as their male co-workers.

The bill would create a mountain of paperwork because it requires submitting to the Labor Commissioner an annual workforce analysis that includes: the total number of persons employed in each job category by gender, the total number of hours worked for each employee and the total compensation for each.

Compliance will be costly and time consuming, driving up the cost of doing business, which will be passed along to taxpayers who cover the cost of government contracts.

AB106 would allow differences in pay for men and women if the employer can prove any pay differential is based legitimately on a seniority or merit system, is based on quality or quantity of production or some unspecified differential based on factors other than gender.

Of course, all these exemptions are entirely subjective and subject to the whim of the bureaucrat looking at the data. One person’s meritorious job performance is another’s discrimination.

Also, the bill states, “The denial or cancellation (of a certificate of compliance) is not subject to judicial review.” Satisfy the inspector or no government contract. Sounds like an invitation to pass envelopes of cash under the table.

Further, the bill also requires all governmental agencies and political subdivisions of government to obtain a certificate of compliance, thus again driving up the cost to all taxpayers for compliance

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2005 exploded the unequal gender pay myth. It concluded that “the gender gap is attributable to choices made by women concerning the amount of time and energy to devote to a career as reflected in years of work experience, utilization of part-time work, and workplace and job characteristics. There is no gender gap in wages among men and women with similar family roles. Comparing the wage gap between women and men ages 35-43 who have never married and never had a child, we find a small observed gap in favor of women, which becomes insignificant after accounting for differences in skills and job and workplace characteristics. What the average woman sacrifices in earnings from choosing jobs that allow for part-time work and flexible work conditions is presumably offset by a gain in the utility of time spent with children and family.”

We wonder if one way to comply with AB106 is to employ a workforce that consists of only men or women — instant compliance, no pay differential. Or is that discriminatory?

AB106 is an expensive and superfluous boondoggle and should be rejected by lawmakers or vetoed by the governor.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Rick McKee cartoon

Rick McKee cartoon

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Bill creates bureaucratic nightmare for employers seeking government contracts

If you ever want to land a government contract in Nevada — paving roads, scrubbing floors, selling typing paper — under a proposed law you would be guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

Assembly Bill 106, being sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel of Henderson, would prohibit government agencies in the state from contracting with any firm until it has received a “certificate of pay equity compliance” issued by the state Labor Commissioner declaring the company provides equal pay for equal work performed by men and women employees.

Never mind the fact the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 already proscribes pay discrimination based on gender.

The bill would create a mountain of paperwork because it requires submitting to the Labor Commissioner an annual workforce analysis that includes: the total number of persons employed in each job category by gender, the total number of hours worked for each employee and the total compensation for each.

The bill does allow differences in pay for men and women if:

An employer is not disqualified from receiving a certificate of pay equity compliance pursuant to this section to the extent of any difference in wages between male and female employees that is the result of:

(a) A seniority system;
(b) A merit system;
(c) A compensation system under which wages are determined by the quality or quantity of production; or
(d) A wage differential that is based on factors other than sex.

Of course, all these exemptions are entirely subjective and subject to the whim of the bureaucrat looking at the data. One person’s meritorious job performance is another’s discrimination.

Also, the bill states, “The denial or cancellation (of a certificate of compliance) is not subject to judicial review.”

Satisfy the inspector or no government contract.

Further, the bill adds to the list of those who must obtain a certificate of compliance all governmental agencies and political subdivisions of government, thus driving up the cost to all taxpayers to comply.

Of course, the way to comply is to employ a workforce that consists of only men or women — instant compliance. Or is that discriminatory?

Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel

Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel