PROFILES IN COURAGE: House Passes Trial Lawyer Prosperity Act…

…also known as SB 153, the Equal Pay For Women Act.

What SB 153 says it does is to ban unequal compensation between men and women on the basis of sex for similar jobs in state government. And that, on the surface, would seem to be a good idea.

In practice, this is an unmitigated orgy of lawsuits and grievances waiting to descend on state government. There is no way to handle compensation for individual human beings that will at the same time (1) reward good performance, (2) maintain fiscal sanity and (3) comply with a requirement that the men working at x-level of state government be paid the same as the women.

This consigns proper management of personnel to the dustbin in the name of “fairness,” at a time when the real story in America is the collapse of male economic power. But what’s going to happen isn’t that men will get screwed by this bill, it’s that good employees will be denied raises and exceptional people, the kind you’ll need if you want to have a chance to properly manage a $25 billion enterprise like Louisiana’s state government, won’t be offered the kind of salary they demand to work in the public sector (which is on one level a good thing, in that those truly talented folks ought to be working in the real economy, where they can create jobs and wealth, and on another not so good, in that without the truly talented folks we can expect the mediocrities and also-rans to continue mucking things up as they’ve done for decades).

The bill was originally offered to apply to everyone, and an idiotic left-wing study which said women in Louisiana only make 69 cents for every dollar men make, which makes this state worse than any other state outside of Wyoming in terms of that disparate number, was held out as the justification for putting such an onerous regulation on our entire economy. The bill was headed for extinction, since in the Senate it was understood that when your economy relies heavily on fishing, timber, shipping, oil and gas and petrochemical industries and it’s nearly impossible to get as many women to apply for work in high-paying but physically demanding and/or hazardous jobs in those industries as men, such a regulation would be ineffective on a cosmic scale in changing that number.

So it was amended to apply only to government work, without much of a showing that Louisiana has any major problem with disparity in pay between men and women in similar state jobs. Namely, a solution in search of a problem.



Nevertheless, this dopey bill managed to pass on an 85-13 vote in the House. The lawyers are ecstatic, and the politicians seem to be happy to play Santa Claus rather than stand for smart policy. Profiles in political courage, they ain’t.

Under Senate Bill 153 by Sen. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans, a woman employed by the state would be able to submit a written notice of an unequal wage violation to her employer, who then would have 60 days to remedy any violation. If no changes are made, the employee can then bring action against her employer with the Human Rights Commission.

If the commission is unable to resolve the dispute, the employee can then file a civil suit in the 19th Judicial District Court.

“Employers violating the bill would be required to pay unpaid wages and court costs,” said Rep. Jared Brossett, D-New Orleans. Brossett carried the bill for Murray on the House floor.

The bill originally required all employers in the state to pay an equal wage for all equal work. After it failed on the Senate floor, the measure was heavily amended to make the bill only applicable to state workers.

You’d expect Gov. Bobby Jindal to veto this thing. But among the folks Jindal has generated sizable campaign funds from are the trial lawyers. It’s worth watching to see what he’ll do with this bill.

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