Speech in Opposition to S. 181 - Lilly Ledbetter Salary Act
House Chamber, Washington, D.C., January 27, 2009, Mr. Speaker:
Much has been said about the chilling effect this legislation will have on our economy because of the endless lawsuits it makes possible – including for grievances that may stretch back 30 years or more. And I certainly share those concerns.
But I want to express a deeper concern with this legislation: I believe it hurts the cause of equality and opportunity in the workplace by making it more difficult for people who most need jobs and most want jobs to get them.
Any person’s labor is worth exactly what that person is willing to receive and what another is willing to pay. The decisions that are made by both the employee and the employer are unique to those people and to those circumstances.
Someone passionately wanting to break into a field, for example, or to stay in a region – or shorten a commute – or an infinite variety of other considerations – may be willing to accept less, in order to gain those non-economic advantages, than someone who is equally qualified but indifferent to those advantages.
Imposing rigid one-size-fits-all requirements into the relationship between an employee and an employer reduces the employee’s freedom to negotiate for the best set of conditions for his or her own unique circumstances.
And lest we forget, when all else fails there is a fail-safe and absolute protection the market provides to all: it is the word, “no.” “No, the pay isn’t acceptable;” “No, the conditions aren’t satisfactory;” “No, I can get a better offer elsewhere.”
Freedom works. It’s time that we put it back to work.