ND House Kills Mandate For Equal Gender Pay Certificate


HB1293 was introduced by Rep. Kyle Oversen, a Democrat from Grand Forks, and it would require businesses with more than 40 employees who sign a contract with the state for more than $500,000 to get an equal pay certificate from the ND Department of Labor.

Among the requirements to get that certificate is this:


I’ve written extensive about supposed gender wage discrimination in North Dakota previously. To me, I think the folks pushing legislative solutions to this problem ought to prove that there’s a problem to be solved. Simply comparing what men make to what women make, and noting the disparity, does not prove there’s a problem.

Does the disparity exist because of discrimination? Or because men and women make different choices in their careers? We should concern ourselves with ensuring that men and women have equality in opportunities, not trying to produce equality in outcomes. Because as long as men and women are different, outcomes are in the aggregate are never going to be equal.

Interestingly, the House never discussed any of this. Rather, those who rose to speak against the bill focused on the logistics of enforcing it and the burdens which would be placed on businesses. Which are valid arguments, but I think the premise of the legislation was worthy of attack as well.

Because quality of outcome seems to be exactly what Oversen and her fellow Democrats are angling for.

“This year is the 50th anniversary of equal pay in North Dakota,” Oversen said during her floor speech in favor of the bill. “So for 50 years the state of North Dakota has recognized that there is harmful impacts of unequal pay on men and women in the state. And there is a law on the books but even with that law and the way it’s been carried out we haven’t equalized pay for men and women in North Dakota.”

But is equalized pay between men and women even an achievable goal when men and women make different decisions with regard to career? As long as men continue to take less time off of work for sick leave and vacation, as long as men continue to take the most dangerous jobs (and suffer the most workplace injuries and deaths as a result), pay between men and women isn’t going to be equal.

Nor should it be. Women do the same job as men, with the same level of experience and education and time-on-the-job (among other factors), should be paid the same. But they shouldn’t get paid the same because Rep. Oversen and other politicians make broad comparisons between all male pay and all female pay and note that there is a difference.

On a related note, Rep. Oversen has two other bills in this vein.

HB1294 changes to the law which simply which adds discussing pay levels with other employees as an unlawful justification for terminating employment.

HB1257 opens the door for more lawsuits over wage discrimination (meaning that one is more about helping out the lawyers than women).