Sen. Kamala Harris unveiled a proposal Monday aimed at closing the gender wage gap by requiring corporations to certify that women and men receive equal pay for equal work or face financial penalties.
Under Harris' proposal, companies with 100 or more employees would be required to obtain a biannual "equal pay certification" proving they pay men and women equally for analogous work. The plan, which is Harris' third major proposal as a presidential candidate, represents a major shift compared to other federal anti-discrimination legislation: The burden is no longer on employees to try to prove gender-based pay discrimination, instead requiring employers to proactively enforce pay equity.
“As the daughter of a working mother in a male-dominated field, I know the fight to be treated equally in the workplace has persisted for generations,” Harris said in a statement provided to Refinery29. “This plan will finally put the burden of ensuring equal pay on the corporations responsible for gender pay gaps, not the employees being discriminated against."
The California Democrat is proposing that corporations receive a certification proving that they've eliminated gender-based pay disparity when it comes to people in equal roles. If a disparity exists, it's on the company to prove that the gap is based on merit, performance, or seniority — and that gender plays no role. Corporations that fail to comply would be fined 1% of profits for every 1% difference in pay.
Harris' plan also requires employers to disclose statistics about how many women occupy leadership roles, the percentage of women who are part of the company's highest earners, and the overall gender compensation gap that exists in the corporation.
"We can finally ensure women earn the wages they deserve by forcing companies to step up, holding them accountable when they don’t, and committing as a nation to ending pay inequity once and for all," Harris said.
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