Democrat lawmakers and a handful of liberal activist groups held a rally at the Capitol today to show their continued loyalty to one of their most important sources of special interest money at the capital: the trial lawyers.
The rally is purportedly in support of enacting a wage discrimination law; however, the group falsely claims that Wisconsin is one of only five states without an equal pay law because of the recent repeal of 2009 Act 20.
Contrary to their inflammatory claims, Act 20 had nothing to do with mandating equal pay between men and women in the workplace. Gender discrimination, including with respect to wages, has been illegal in Wisconsin long before enactment of Act 20. Instead, the new law broadened the ability to sue businesses for punitive damages — on top of the other legal remedies available – for instances of workplace discrimination. No wage discrimination claims were filed under Act 20 prior to its repeal.
“Today’s rally isn’t about equal pay, it’s about enriching trial lawyers at the expense of Wisconsin employers,” said Scott Manley, Vice President of Government Relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. “Wisconsin workers continue to have the ability to sue an employer for wage discrimination under state law, and are entitled to back pay if their wage discrimination claim is found to have merit. Anyone who claims otherwise either doesn’t understand the law, or is purposely misleading the public.”
In addition to the right to sue for wage discrimination under Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Act, women have the ability to pursue a federal wage discrimination claim after filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If a wage discrimination claim is proved, the worker is entitled to punitive damages under federal law.
“The rally today is about giving trial lawyers a bigger payday, not workers,” said Manley. “What the people at the rally today need to understand is that more lawsuits and higher costs for employers may be good for lawyers, but it’s bad for jobs and higher wages.”
The false claims made at the rally today are not new. Similar claims from Democrat politicians, including Mary Burke, Kathleen Falk and Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) have rated “false” by PolitiFact Wisconsin.
Along with labor unions and the environmental lobby, trial lawyers have become one of the most important special interest groups funding Democrat lawmakers. For example, records from the Government Accountability Board show the Wisconsin Association of Justice, formerly the Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers, has contributed more than $480,000 to Democrat candidates since 2011 through their Justice Fund political conduit.
“Today’s rally makes you wonder why Democrat lawmakers continue to peddle the same misinformation about Wisconsin’s law, and continue to argue in favor expanding lawsuits in our state,” said Manley. “It’s the political season, and maybe these lawmakers feel obliged to show their loyalty to one of their most important special interest funders at the Capitol.”
For More Information Contact:
Scott Manley, 608.258.3400