Monday, October 16, 2017

The Gender Pay Gap, the EEOC, and Parental Leave

In light of the uproar over Harvey Weinstein, and the subsequent #MeToo campaign, I thought it would be appropriate to look again at the gender wage gap and what, if anything, the Trump administration is doing to narrow that gap, as well as the treatment of sexual harassment under the Trump administration.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 90,000 complaints in 2015, of which 30% dealt with sexual harassment, and it was estimated that 75% of sexual harassment incidents in the workplace went unreported.  This informative Vox article breaks down a 2016 EEOC study that makes clear that the little Powerpoints we're all subjected to once a year (if that) do next-to-nothing to deter harassment.

(The Vox article also makes an important point that in unionized industries, the pay gap is significantly reduced.)

That a Republican President would seek to undermine the EEOC with appointees and rules designed to make employment less equal is not really a surprise, and Donald Trump has sadly not proven an exception to the rule in this regard.  His most recent EEOC nominee, Donald Gade, is "an outspoken critic of disability pay for wounded veterans" (source: Inside Counsel) which strikes me as totally flipping insane, politically, but in this day and age positions once considered insane are increasingly entering the political norm, aren't they?

As you can guess, if the President is going to nominate a man who thinks that even those who fought for their country in the armed forces and sustained injuries shouldn't get "handouts," he's certainly not going to do anything to fight the chronic gender pay gap.  And in fact, Trump's EEOC has moved to stop reporting from large companies - reporting that would have assisted efforts to close this gap:

The Trump administration has halted a rule that would have required large companies to report to the government what they pay employees by race and gender — an Obama-era policy that aimed to close what economists call the wage gap. ... Starting next year, companies with more than 100 employees and federal contractors with at least 50 would have had to report more detailed salary data to the EEOC on a form they already annually submit to the agency. ... If, for example, the numbers revealed that a business paid male sales employees far more than their female counterparts, the EEOC could choose to look into the matter and perhaps launch a discrimination lawsuit.  (Washington Post)

Gotta keep those pesky lawyers at bay!

Business Insider, a publication I find increasing indispensable, has a wonderful, graph-filled breakdown of the pay discrepancy between men and women.  It will come as no surprise that women of color fare even worse than white women (oddly, Asian women suffer slightly less than white women).

It is also a cruel irony that new mothers suffer salary-wise when their children are born, but then men tend to enjoy a salary increase.  

Of course, some of that discrepancy might be obviated by a national paternal leave policy, which is a concept that enjoys bipartisan support and had been loudly trumpeted by Ivanka Trump.  A great, concise look at paid family leave can be found here.  Certainly, the polling on the issue is good:

A Pew Research Center survey of 2,029 adults released in March found that 82 percent support paid maternity leave, 69 percent support paid paternity leave, 67 percent support paid family leave, and 85 percent support paid-leave to deal with one’s own serious health condition. (

Still, counting on Ivanka Trump to spearhead a national parental leave policy might not be the best idea.  If you read the Washington Post article above, you'll see she stood by her father's decision to halt the reporting from larger companies.  Still, who knows, maybe she really will step up to the plate, somehow.

Barring that, logic would suggest the pay gap for women, and low levels of reporting on sexual harassment, are here to stay, at least if Donald Trump's EEOC has anything to say about it.

On a side note, and unrelated to the issues discussed above, I don't want any of you to miss this horrifying expose of elder law abuse.  Why this isn't a hot button issue politically is beyond me.  Read it and weep, and, sadly, maybe don't trust your parents' doctors.

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