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GOP candidate: Equal pay laws would deter businesses from hiring women

Monica Wehby, a GOP candidate from Oregon running for Senate, said businesses would "steer away" from hiring women if equal pay measures were enacted.
Monica Wehby at her election night party on May 20, 2014 in Oregon City, Ore.
Monica Wehby at her election night party on May 20, 2014 in Oregon City, Ore.

A Republican Senate candidate from Oregon expressed her belief that businesses wouldn't hire women if equal pay laws were implemented.

Monica Wehby said such legislation aimed at providing women the same opportunities as men would deny them careers.

"I would be concerned that it would make it more difficult for businesses to hire women because of the fear of lawsuits. They would tend to steer away. And I think that that's an unintended consequence of laws like this that increase regulation and legislation," she said Sunday during an interview with a local news station in Portland.

Senate Republicans in April rejected the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have held employees responsible for wage discrimination against women and would have required the U.S. Department of Labor to collect wage data from supervisors. Wehby said she supports equality for women in the workplace, but thinks there are flaws in the bill.

"I would absolutely favor any legislation that supports equal pay for women, but this was a flawed piece of legislation," she said. "It did not take into account experience, hours worked, education."

The battle for equal pay continues to be a dividing issue in states around the country, as Democrats try to raise state minimum wages, enhance sick leave for women, and increase access to affordable childcare. Republicans blame their counterparts, though, for using equal pay measures as a distraction during an election year. Nationwide, women made 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man in 2012, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Previously, during an interview with msnbc, Wehby expressed her surprise at the unbalanced treatment of women.

"It's hard to believe that in 21st-century America, women are still undervalued by employers," Wehby said. If elected, she would become the first woman senator from the Beaver State in 47 years.

"The race I want to run is the one that would be ran regardless of what gender I am, because the most important issues are the ones that affect us all," she added.

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Wehby, the first woman to enroll and graduate from the UCLA neurosurgeon program, is currently a Portland pediatric neurosurgeon. She will challenge Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley in the state's Senate election on Nov. 4. A recent Huffington Post poll showed Merkley leading Wehby by more than 14 percentage points.