Davis tells Abbot to “act like a Texan.”
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis slammed her Republican opponent Greg Abbot after campaign staffers of Abbot said he would not support equal pay for women.
“Greg Abbot’s spokesperson said he would veto equal pay legislation, just like Rick Perry did. And given what’s going on at his office I am not surprised.This is the very legislation that would help his employees address the fact that they are getting paid less than their co-workers for doing the same work.” said Davis in a speech in Austin, “So I have a message for Greg Abbot today: Stop hiding behind your staff members. Stop hiding behind your surrogates. This Texas gal is calling you out. Act like a Texan.”
This is not the first punch the Abbot campaign has taken on the issue of equal pay for women. Two of his staff members have also been heard last week saying women are too “busy” to be concerned with these issues and another said women are paid less because, “men are better negotiators.”
Abbot has said he supports the concept of equal pay for women but the current anti-discrimination laws are enough to prevent that type of inequality. A report from the San Antonio Express-News doesn’t give much support to his claim as it says that women in his office earn on average $6,000 less than men in the same position.
Equal pay for women is in the spotlight of the Texas governor’s race, and figures from Attorney General Greg Abbott’s state agency show most female assistant attorneys general make less on average than do men in the same job classification.
Davis spokesman Bo Delp said, “The facts speak for themselves.
The Texas attorney general’s office has more than 4,000 employees, nearly 2,900 of them women. The office defends state laws, serves as legal counsel to state agencies and provides legal opinions, including hundreds of open records requests every year. The office also oversees the collection of court-ordered child support and administers the state crime victims compensation fund.
Overall, male employees make an average of $60,200 a year, and women make $44,708. Those averages, however, don’t take into account differing job classifications.
Looking at the 722 assistant attorneys general under Abbott, the average salary for 343 men is $79,464 while the average salary for 379 women is $73,649.
Abbott’s office said the men on average had more than 16 years of being licensed, while the women had nearly 14 years. The men had an average of nearly 104 months of service, while the women had more than 92 months, his office said.
Of seven different classifications of assistant attorneys general, the average salary for men is higher than the average salary for women in six of them, with the difference ranging from $647 to $4,452. In one category, the average salary for women is $3,512 higher than that for men.
In three categories, the women on average either had more years of service or had been licensed longer, or both, despite being paid less, according to figures from the attorney general’s office. In the latter case, the attorney general’s office noted the salaries were almost identical — the men’s average salary was $122,528, while the women made $647 less while having more experience.
In the one category of assistant attorney general in which women were paid more than men, the women on average had more years of service at the agency, but fewer years licensed.
Civil rights lawyer Jim Harrington called the bottom-line numbers “absolutely astonishing.”
“If you were to take them to court and show these statistics to the court, the burden would shift to them automatically to prove why there is that kind of discrimination, that disparity,” said Harringon, an Abbott critic who’s founder and director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. “That’s a prima facie case of discrimination you are describing.”
Katie Bardaro, lead economist for Seattle-based PayScale, cautioned that a number of factors go into setting pay, even for people with the same job title. PayScale collects data from employees and people with job offers and conducts studies that include a look at men and women in the workforce.
“Even though they have the same title, it doesn’t mean they have the same characteristics. They might not have the same day-to-day responsibilities. They might not have the same years of experience, the same education, the same management responsibilities,” she said.
Davis’ bill would have mirrored the federal Lilly Ledbetter law, which changed the statute of limitations in federal cases so allegations of pay discrimination could be brought 180 days after the last alleged discriminatory paycheck was received. Previously, the clock started running in federal cases when the discriminatory payments began.
Backers say the measure would allow people to bring their cases in state court, a potentially quicker and less expensive avenue. A number of businesses opposed it, and critics said it wasn’t needed.
Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said women in the private sector may have much more difficulty discovering pay disparity, making the equal-pay measure crucial.
“I think it would be nice if we could all work at places that had to be as transparent as government does about salaries,” Burke said. “The sad part is that a woman working in the private sector doesn’t necessarily have the opportunity to know how her salary compares to the men.”