Kamala Harris wants to fine companies that pay men more than women

By Melissa Locker

Gender inequity costs the United States $2 trillion in lost GDP and Senator Kamala Harris has a plan to curb at least one way that gender-based inequity hurts the economy and women’s bank accounts.

Harris, who is one of the 23 people running to be the Democratic nominee for president, is unveiling a new proposal designed to make companies prove that they aren’t discriminating against women by paying men more for the same work. If they can’t, the policy would hit the discriminatory companies where it hurts—their wallets.

Under Harris’s plan, companies with over 100 employees would be required to apply for “Equal Pay Certification” from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the AP reports, and disclose whether they are “Equal Pay Certified” on the homepage of their websites. Companies that don’t meet the threshold for certification would be fined “1% of their profits for every 1% wage gap they allow to persist for work of equal value,” with fines decreasing over time as they figure out their BS out and start paying people equitably. Harris estimates that alone would generate $180 billion over 10 years.

Under Harris’s equal-pay plan, which is laid out on her website, companies would also be barred from asking jobseekers about their prior salary history, barred for putting forced arbitration agreements for pay discrimination in employment contracts, and barred from prohibiting their employees from talking about their pay openly. Under the plan, companies would be required to report the share of women who are among the company’s top earners as well as the total pay and total compensation gap that exists between men and women, pushing the onus back on companies to explain any pay discrepancies.

To enforce the policy, all federal contractors would be required to have Equal Pay Certification within two years of Harris taking office, or else they would be barred from competing for contracts valued at more than $500,000. Harris has been preaching the gospel of equal pay for equal work for years, particularly for black women who face the biggest wage gap when compared to white men, and has made closing the income gap a cornerstone of her presidential campaign.

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