Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) unveiled a new plan Monday that would place the burden of ensuring equal pay on companies instead of employees. The 2020 presidential hopeful wants to fine companies that are treating their employees unfairly, and she says she won’t need the approval of Congress to do so.
Harris is calling the plan the “most aggressive equal pay proposal in history” — and the details live up to the promise.
Under the plan, companies with more than 100 employees will be required to obtain an “equal pay certification” to prove women aren’t earning less money than their male counterparts for similar work.
“I have a simple message for corporations” Pay women fairly or pay the price,” Harris tweeted Monday.
I have a simple message for corporations: Pay women fairly or pay the price.https://t.co/5WZL14MLq0
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 20, 2019
Paying men and women differently for similar work was outlawed in 1963 under the Equal Pay Act. However, women are still experiencing pay inequality 56 years later.
As Harris highlights in her proposal, equal pay isn’t as simple as it seems. Discrimination can occur when women get looked over for promotions and bonuses. Moreover, women can fall victim to the motherhood bonus — a phenomenon in which women on average get a 4 percent pay cut for each child they have. Men, on the other hand, receive a 6 percent pay increase on average for every child, according to the New York Times.
Harris wants to combat this by having companies report statistics on women in leadership positions.
After consideration, companies will be charged a 1 percent fine of their profits for every percentage of the pay gap that exists in the company. The California senator is hoping this will change how women can tackle pay inequality and put more responsibility on companies than women employees who would otherwise have to go to court.
“It’s not right that young women need to work more hours to pay off their student debt,” Harris’ plan reads.
“It’s not right that new mothers are penalized for taking time off to care for their children,” it continues. “It’s not right that women retirees have less security and accumulated wealth after working their entire careers. It’s not right that the wage gap has barely budged this entire century.”
Such a plan would likely see pushback from Republican lawmakers who may control the House, Senate, or both at the end of the 2020 election. After all, the Republican-controlled Senate shot down a House-passed equal pay bill earlier this year.
But Harris is promising the plan will go into action with or without Congress’ help and vowed to use executive action if elected president — an action she said she’d also take on the issue of gun control.