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Texas Republicans Pretend To Support #EqualPay Day While Their Voting History Shows Otherwise

by: Katherine Haenschen

Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:00 PM CDT

 Today, April 8th, is Equal Pay Day, meant to symbolize how far into the new year the average woman must work to earn what her male counterparts earned in the previous calendar year.

Or as Republicans like to call it, it's "What Do You Mean We Oppose Equal Pay Just Because We Vetoed It And Say Disparaging Things About Women" Day.

Texas Republicans have been working hard -- especially the female surrogates, who have been forced to work 23% harder -- to suggest that even though their statewide leaders oppose the Texas Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and continue to demean working women, they don't actually have a gender problem.

Leading the charge in the "Mansplainer Doth Protest Too Much" category last week was Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak, who penned an op-ed entitled "No One Is Against Equal Pay."

Except for the 207 Republicans in the US House and Senate and 65 Republicans in the Texas Legislature who voted against the modern Equal Pay legislation, Republican Governor Rick Perry who vetoed the law, and Republican candidate for Governor Greg Abbott who says he won't sign an Equal Pay law either.

So yeah, they're "not against" it all right.

Let's debunk this Republican "support" for Equal Pay a bit more below the jump, shall we?

Let's break Mackowiak's op-ed down and see if everyone REALLY supports Equal Pay, as he asserts.

Mackowiak writes:

Gender-based pay discrimination is against the law. President Barack Obama and Congress acted to expand existing law at the federal level in 2009.

Yes, the first law President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which also makes employers legally liable for every new discriminatory pay check, not just the first one. (Previously, a woman had only 180 days from receiving her first sex-biased check to seek redress.)

36 Republican Senators and 171 Republican Representatives voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, including John Cornyn and every Republican in the Texas Congressional delegation.

Every Democrat in the House and Senate voted for the bill. Republicans killed a previous version of the bill in the Senate in 2007.

So yes, there is a federal Equal Pay law but only because of Democrats. Republicans overwhelmingly opposed it. And this law explicitly DOES NOT apply in Texas state courts.


Mackowiak writes:

The Texas Constitution already outlaws gender-based discrimination (Article 1, Section 3a, known as the Texas Equal Rights Amendment). The Texas Labor Code specifically outlaws gender-based pay discrimination (Section 21.051), saying that where gender is concerned, it is illegal for an employer who "fails or refuses to hire an individual, discharges an individual, or discriminates in any other manner against an individual in connection with compensation or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment."

However, lacking a Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, women cannot currently seek redress for wage discrimination that happened more than 6 months ago in our state courts.

What Mackowiak conveniently leaves out is that there is no explicit provision in Texas law to allow the protections of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to apply here, specifically the extended liability of employers to the most recent discriminatory paycheck.

The Texas Supreme Court (that bastion of liberalism!) has explicitly stated that Texas needs to pass a state version of the Lilly Ledbetter Act for its provisions to apply here.

In Prairie View A&M v. Chatha, the Court wrote, "we hold that the federal Ledbetter Act does not apply to a claim brought under the TCHRA [Texas Commission on Human Rights Act]." (This was the case in which AG Greg Abbott defended the right of a public employer in Texas to wage-discriminate based on sex. Just FYI.)

It's all well and good to say pay discrimination is not allowed, but if there is no enforcement mechanism or way for women to seek redress for wage discrimination in our Texas courts, it does working women and their families no good.

What Mackowiak is essentially saying here is that while it's illegal to wage discriminate against women, they shouldn't be allowed to do anything about it in Texas.


Mackowiak writes:

Since 1995, Texas Labor Code Section 21.126 has provided that certain state and local public employees are able to file suit, under these provisions.

Certain public employees can file a suit. Not all, not most. Not private sector workers. Just a certain segment of public workers. Well, Matt, 81% of jobs in Texas are private sector jobs. What of these employees? Are they all supposed to go file a federal lawsuit?

It also bears repeating that in the case Prairie View A&M v. Chatha, it was found that the lack of a Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act made it impossible for the afflicted women to sue for back wages in Texas courts.

These are public employees who could not successfully sue for fair pay in our Texas courts due to the lack of a law protecting them. And this says nothing about the 81% of Texans who work in the private sector.


Mackowiak writes:

Perry did veto the [Texas Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay] legislation.

He sure did.

It passed 16-15 in the State Senate and 79-50 in the State House. Again, all 65 votes against the bill in both houses were Republicans.

Rick Perry vetoed it at the behest of several members of the business community, who are more interested in perpetuating long-term wage discrimination than they are paying women the same as men for an equal day's work.

Perry, the noted legal scholar, claimed that the law was duplicative of federal law even as our own Texas courts stated otherwise.

Let's see how Mackowiak ends his missive about Equal Pay.

Mackowiak writes:

Duplicative laws are not necessary.

The Texas Supreme Court disagrees.

Mackowiak writes:

No one opposes equal pay for equal work.

But if Republicans don't give women the ability to sue for wage discrimination then they don't really care about enforcing it.

Mackowiak writes:

Let's set aside phony wedge issues and return to a gubernatorial campaign worthy of our great state.

Got that ladies? Your desire to be paid the same for a day's work and your right to sue when you're discriminated against is a "phony" issue as far as Republicans are concerned.

If this is what Republican "support" for Equal Pay looks like, I'd hate to see the opposition.

Now ladies, get back to work. You're already another 98 days behind your male counterparts since you've just been working until now to make up for last year.  

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