As you know, the issue of equal pay for equal work has been a cause du jour for the Left, whether that employment crisis is real or imagined (see my column from last April that debunked the myth in regard to gender at tinyurl.com/ConferEqualPay). This movement started at the top. When President Obama took office, the very first bill he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He didn’t stop there: In April of 2014, he charged the Department of Labor to develop of means of collecting and summarizing data from federal contractors in an effort to determine inequities in compensation based on race and sex.
That order is finally coming to fruition. After a lengthy process that ultimately pulled the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) into the mix as the lead agency, new guidelines have been introduced that not only will put a time-consuming bureaucratic burden on employers, but will also paint them as racist and sexist until proven innocent.
On September 30 of 2017 all employers -- not just the federal contractors noted in the original dictate – with 100 or more employees will have to submit a detailed annual report to the federal government that will categorize employees by gender, race and ethnicity. The document will see them divided among 12 pay bands and then by another set of categories related to broad job types, so far from specific that people with unrelated jobs and responsibilities will be lumped together. It will take hours – maybe days – for employers to prepare these documents, especially when the pay period is not based on the calendar year as W2s are.
The feds will then input all of that data into their system and analyze each employer, coming down on any that they perceive to be discriminatory.
Like the news releases that often follow OSHA reviews of workplaces or Department of Health inspections of dining establishments, accusations of inequality will be disclosed to the public, which will put countless employers who are doing right in harm’s way. Their reputations, competitiveness and ability to hire the best and brightest will be harmed and the wage and benefit information of privately-held corporations will be shared publicly.
In that previous paragraph, I used the phrase “employers who are doing right” because the EEOC’s form actually does nothing to determine if they are doing right or wrong. It does not address an employee’s salary and its basis in hours worked, education, seniority, merit, productivity, attendance, special talents or any other factor that causes a worker to earn more or earn less as compared to his or her coworker. It treats everyone as exactly the same worker, having identical value and potential for the organization…that is in itself equality, but an equality that has absolutely no basis in the real world or how the economy works.
In follow-ups to the finger pointing, accused employers will have to justify the wages of each individual employee to Washington paper-pushers and inspectors in order to clear their name and not incur any sort of compensatory wrath that the government hopes to collect (you know the government will be in the business of wage equality for revenues as much as alleged altruism).
Employers wronged by that overbearing process will then feel pressured to watch themselves any time they hire someone or give out raises. They might not give Jack a healthy increase for all of his good work because it will create a discrepancy against Jill in the next cubicle over who just skates by.
The EEOC’s master plan sounds like a nightmare for employers – it will be for sure. It will adversely affect the economy and how business is done in each workplace. It will make one pine for the good old days when a boss could reward someone solely on the work he does without having to worry about being considered a bigoted, sexist pig.
From the 18 April 2016 Greater Niagara Newspapers