It seemed rather remarkable earlier this month when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), in the midst of a national debate about the Republicans’ “war on women,” quietly repealed the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, a state version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay law.
He’s apparently unimpressed with the pushback, and in recent remarks to the Illinois Policy Institute, rejected the premise of the criticism (thanks to reader K.S. for the tip).
For those who can’t watch clips online, Walker emphasized what remains illegal in Wisconsin: ” The reality is today in the state of Wisconsin it is illegal to discriminate for employment, not only for hiring, but for promotions or any other impact on employment…. You repeatedly hear pundits and others out there claiming that we repealed Equal Pay in the state. That’s just 100 percent wrong. It is still against the law to discriminate based on those factors.”
That may sound persuasive, but Rosie Gray noted the effects of the governor rolling back the key parts of Wisconsin’s equal pay law.
The act was meant to give victims of wage discrimination more legal avenues for pursuing cases against their employers, but Walker signed a measure removing parts of the law that allowed people to plead their cases in state circuit court as opposed to federal court.
The Republican governor’s pushback, in other words, is wildly misleading. Walker’s argument, in effect, is, “It’s still illegal to discriminate against women.” That’s true, but it’s also incomplete – the state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act created a mechanism through which victims of discrimination could seek a legal recourse.
The governor thinks it’s enough to simply make discrimination illegal. It’s a step, but Democratic policymakers in Wisconsin a few years ago went further, making it easier for those who’ve faced discrimination to do something about it. Walker quietly turned back the clock.
The far-right governor may be embarrassed about it now, but that’s 100 percent what happened.