A draft report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says that the concept of paying men and women the same for different jobs of comparable worth is "profoundly and irretrievably flawed."
The draft report, which is being sent to the commission's eight members for their vote, said "comparable worth, as a theory of discrimination or as a remedy for discrimination, is profoundly and irretrievably flawed."
The concept of comparable worth recommends equal pay for jobs considered of equal value to an employer, measured in terms of skill, effort, training and education, responsibility and working conditions.
Such evaluations are "inherently subjective" and "cannot prove the existence of sex-based wage discrimination," the report said. There is "no legally certain, 'objective' way of comparing the value or worth of two different jobs," it said.
Factors other than discrimination play a large part in the different wages paid to men and women, it said. Included among those factors were differences in experience, educational choices, a greater tendency of women to move in and out of the job market and "occupational segregation" of women in lower-paying jobs.
A policy of comparable worth would require "a radical reordering of our economic system," giving the government greater power in setting wages, the report said.
But Rep. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio), opening a hearing by a House Post Office and Civil Service subcommittee yesterday, responded: "Unfortunately, in their zeal to arouse public sentiment against pay equity, critics have raised unfounded fears of government-controlled wages and disruption of the free market. Such hysterical responses to this basic civil rights issue do a grave disservice to the working women of this country, while detracting from a reasoned public debate of sex-based wage discrimination."