The U.S. unemployment rate remains at over 10 percent and there appears to be no relief in sight.  In fact, CNN reports this morning that “the number of people filing continuing claims jumped to 4,558,000 in the week ended Feb. 27, the most recent data available. That was up 37,000 from the preceding week’s upwardly revised 4,521,000 claims.”

Last week, Democrats made quite a show of their concern for the unemployed.  Who can forget the sound of their shrieks over Senator Bunning’s mere suggestion that they actually pay the $10 billion bill for continued unemployment payments.

Given their show of concern, it’s more than a bit galling that the issue Senator Tom Harkin has chosen to focus on this morning as the Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee is another jobs crushing piece of legislation-the Paycheck Fairness Act.  This bill, which passed the House last year, would make lawsuits against employers even easier and would shift the burden of proof to the employer to show that the difference in wages results from “any factor other than sex.”

The Heritage Foundation summarizes this bill as a jobs killer.  The report states that by facilitating lawsuits, the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) will hurt employers:

  • The PFA would give a windfall to trial lawyers, exposing employers to unlimited punitive damages.
  • The PFA would encourage trial lawyers to initiate many frivolous class-action suits in hopes of winning a few large judgments.
  • The successful lawsuits could transfer billions of dollars from employers to trial lawyers, bankrupting businesses and costing jobs.
  • The increased legal risks would also reduce the incentive for business owners to start new business or invest in and expand their firms, thereby costing even more jobs.
  • Under the PFA the courts will micromanage businesses.  For instance, the courts would have to decide: Does experience constitute a “bona fide factor other than sex”?
  • A woman earning less than a more experienced man could argue that her employer should be required to send her to training and then pay both employees identical wages. She would have a strong case to argue that experience was not a “bona fide” factor because an alternative employment practice would eliminate the disparity.
  • Government micromanaging over areas in which the courts have no business expertise would reduce business competitiveness and cost jobs.

Read the entire report here.