With the entry of former Vice President Joe Biden into the 2020 presidential race, Sen. Kamala Harris’ luster has been a little lacking lately. But she’s grabbing attention this morning with a volley at gender-discriminating corporate America with a brand new proposal to fine them if they don’t pay men and women equally.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Sen. Kamala Harris is proposing that large employers pay women on an equal basis with their male counterparts or face government fines, seeking a sweeping shift in the way the nation addresses pay inequity.
The Democratic presidential candidate released a plan Monday that would put the burden on companies to demonstrate that they are not engaging in pay discrimination. Ms. Harris’s campaign said companies would be fined 1% of their profits for every 1% wage gap they allow to continue for work of equal value.
The campaign estimated that the plan would generate about $180 billion over 10 years, with revenue decreasing over time as equal-pay practices become more common.
Previewing the plan at a Los Angeles rally Sunday, Ms. Harris said she would make a national priority of “closing that pay gap and holding corporations accountable for transparency.” She warned, “There will be penalties if they don’t.”
The move will be controversial with business, because it places the onus on them to prove they’re not discriminating as opposed to simply replying with proof they are not when accused of gender discrimination. That would entail additional regulatory costs, separate to the cost of fines if they are found to be engaging in sexist practices with regard to compensation.
However, the proposal seems mostly targeted at big employers, and not small business:
Under the proposal, businesses with 100 employees or more would be required to obtain the equal-pay certification from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within three years of enactment and every two years after that. Companies employing 500 or more workers would have two years from enactment to certify. Compliance reports would be publicly posted on the EEOC website.
Federal contractors would be required to receive the certification within two years of Ms. Harris taking office or would be barred from competing for federal contracts valued at more than $500,000. The campaign noted that Minnesota has a similar requirement for state contractors.
That could make the proposal more appealing to regulation-skeptical business owners, many of whom lean Republican but may be shopping for an alternative in 2020 after several years of the Trump administration.
The proposal may help Harris grab back attention and her standing in the polls.
Prior to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s announcement that she supports impeachment of President Trump, Harris was faring better; now, she has slipped in national polls with Warren being perceived to dominate progressive policy debates and getting more free cable news time thanks to her impeachment announcement.