Thursday, July 01, 2010

Google paying gays more than straights

A news report this morning says that Google is going to pay gay employees more than it pays straight employees.

Actually, this apparently only applies to gay couples who are in domestic partnerships. The rationale is that married couples get a federal tax break and gay couples do not, so Google is going to compensate for the extra tax burden by giving gay couples more money.

I understand the rationale but I'm wondering if it is legal. What happened to equal pay for equal work? Back in the day when men were almost always the primary breadwinners in the family, didn't companies often pay men more money using the rationale that men needed more money to support their families?

Our society said no to such discrimination arguing that there should be equal pay for equal work. Google's new policy is not equal pay for equal work.

In fact, Google's new policy undermines the whole principle of equal pay for equal work. It seems to imply that companies should be able to pay some employees more money as long as they have a good reason--even if that reason has nothing to do with the job.

If companies can pay people more money simply to compensate for taxes, there should be no reason why another company could not pay men more money if they are the breadwinners of a family.

In fact--to use a more absurd illustration to press the point--if a young owner of a company disagreed with auto insurance policies, why couldn't that company pay young people higher salaries to compensate for the fact that they have higher car insurance?

Come to think of it, maybe Google should also pay their own executives a special bonus to compensate for the fact that these executives are already in a higher tax bracket!

If we are going to enforce equal pay for equal work, we should do so in all cases. We should not look the other way because some cases are more politically correct than others.

Actually, my argument is not against Google, much less its gay employees. My argument is against excessive government regulation.

Companies should be able pay whomever they want, whatever they want. After all, employees who don't like their pay can look for employment elsewhere and consumers who don't like the company's policies can take their business elsewhere. It's called freedom--its not always fair but that is the nature of freedom.

When you trade freedom for fairness you will have neither.

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