Remember Lilly Ledbetter? No? Perhaps you remember The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009? Still nothing? That was the first bill new President Barack Hussein Obama signed into law on 29 January 2009. A hopeful start by a president who ran on a message of hope. A little more than six years later, what has changed? Jana Kasperkevic, writing inWalmart and eBay oppose shareholder resolutions to disclose gender pay gap, brings us forward:
That proposal [to disclose wage information by gender as well as the average hours worked by its male and female employees in an effort "ensure pay equity" at the company.] was submitted by Cynthia Murray, a 15-year employee of a Walmart store in Laurel, Maryland, who owns almost 70 shares of the company’s common stock and belongs to Our Walmart, a worker organization that has been lobbying for higher wage and better schedules at the company. “Murray’s resolution would require Walmart to disclose, for each pay grade and salary range: the proportion of men and women in each grade and range, the average hours worked by men and women and the average hourly wage rates of men and women,” according to the press release. Shareholders are currently scheduled to vote on the resolution at the company’s annual meeting in June. That is, if it is included in the 2015 proxy materials at all. On 30 January, Walmart filed a no-action letter with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in response to Murray’s proposal, asking for a permission to exclude the letter from its 2015 proxy materials “because the proposal relates to the company’s litigation strategy”. Could more diversity help end the tech talent shortage? Read more “[T]he company believes that disclosure of the information requested by the proposal would adversely affect the company’s litigation strategy in a number of pending lawsuits and claims alleging gender-based discrimination in pay,” according to the 11-page letter filed with the SEC. The letter goes on to say that, so far, Walmart has had
“no adverse judgment against the company in any of these matters” and is determined to keep it that way. Every company’s management has a responsibility to defend the company’s interest against unwarranted litigation. A shareholder proposal that interferes with this obligation is inappropriate, particularly when the company is involved in pending litigation on the very issues that form the basis for the proposal.”
Simply put, Walmart believes that publicly disclosing information about its pay, broken down by gender, could threaten its standing in a number of pending gender discrimination lawsuits.
We have a fetish in America for protecting how much money we make. That needs to end. I do think there is plenty of room for income differences, but only when those differences are tied directly to measurable and clear performance criteria in a rubric available to all affected. Make all salaries transparent. Full stop. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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