Senator Kamala Harris has unveiled her plan to place the burden of closing the wage gap between men and women on the companies that employ them, instead of the women who are underpaid. Reporter Kyung Lah spoke to Sen. Harris, who noted that the burden and responsibility has always been on the employee to complain and file the lawsuits. Basically, all the risk was on the employee, and zero risk was on the employer who, by the way, also had all the power and money in this dynamic.
In Harris' plan, she's targeting Corporate America and placing the burden on the companies to prove that they do pay women equally to men with the same experience and qualifications for the same jobs. She would require companies to get something called an "Equal Pay Certification." There will be penalties and fines for these companies if they don't.
LAH: That's the starting point, Harris explained to CNN. She'd require companies to get an Equal Pay Certification.
HARRIS: What I am proposing is we shift the burden. It should not be on that working woman to prove it. It should instead be on that large corporation to prove they are paying people for equal work equal equally. It's that simple. It's literally that simple.
LAH: companies would have to open their books, disclosing what they pay to employees, prove women and men are paid equally for equal work. If disparities exist, show the gap is based on merit, performance or seniority, not gender. For every 1% pay gap the harris administration would fine companies 1% of their daily profits. Harris cites the latest census data.
HARRIS: Women, for the same work, the equal work on average make 80 cents on the dollar. And this has got to end.
LAH: Harris would boost funding and enforcement power to the equal employment opportunity commission. Like her previous gun violence proposal, if Congress doesn't act on equal pay she'll enact her plan by executive action.
LAH: Were this to come through in a harris administration you would hear from banks, tech companies...
HARRIS: Across the board.
LAH: J.P. Morgan. Would you be willing to take off your earrings and engage in this fight?
HARRIS: Yes! I have been in those fights before. I come at it with a spirit of believing when large corporations are required to do this they will understand that it is something they should concern themselves with.
LAH: Harris was targeted boosting teacher pay and a middle class tax cut, was raised by a working single mother and wants to flip the script for working Americans.
HARRIS: We were there before she came home from school, before she came home from work. She would cook dinner and stay up at the kitchen table doing work, figuring out how to pay the bills. It is my intention to correct what has been wrong about the way we have designed the system.
LAH: Now the Harris campaign says before critics say this absolutely cannot be done the campaign is pointing out that they are borrowing from examples of programs already up and running in Iceland and in the UK. These are laws already in place, Alisyn. This is her third policy roll-out targeting justice and women and Women of Color. That's where she believes is her path to the nomination.
Sometimes the simplest proposals are the fairest and easiest. Sen. Harris is doing her damndest to show where her progressive heart lies and her plans to hold corporations accountable for their actions. Or in this case, inaction on closing the gender pay gap.