Choices, Bias, and the Value of the Paycheck Fairness Act: A Response Essay
29 ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law 429 (2014)
16 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2015
Date Written: 2014
This essay is in response to an article written by three practitioners, who argue that the pay gap is not primarily caused by employer discrimination, but rather can be attributed to many factors, including the choices made by women regarding occupation, caregiving, and commitment to the workforce. Thus, they argue that we should not place the blame on employers and focus on the reach of anti-discrimination laws, and should instead acknowledge that there is a broader problem caused by entrenched social norms that the law cannot change. I have a slightly different perspective. Although I agree with the authors’ assertion that much of the pay gap is caused by the choices men and women make, I disagree with them in several respects. First, I disagree that employers are primarily blamed for the pay gap. In fact, as I have argued elsewhere, the pay gap is often blamed on the choices women make. Second, and more importantly, I believe that most workplace choices made by women (and men) are constrained by social norms and workplace structures that are not compatible with balancing work and family. And, finally, although I agree with the authors that the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act cannot solve all of the problems with the Equal Pay Act, I believe it can make a dent in the pay gap, especially with a few minor tweaks.
Keywords: pay, gender, sex, equality, choice, glass ceiling, discrimination, bias
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