Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris has revealed her plan to ensure the gender pay gap is closed: by fining companies that fail to pay their men and women equally.

This plan seeks to change the current system entirely; instead of employees coming forward to complain about equal pay, companies would be required to submit data on equal pay annually.

In an interview with CNN, Harris said that pay equity was a “really big issue,” adding, “If you lift up the economic status of women, you lift up the economic status of families and communities and all society benefits.”

Data from the latest Census Bureau states that the average woman who works full time made roughly 80 cents for every dollar a man made in 2017, and this gap was significantly wider for black and Hispanic women.


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“What I am proposing is we shift the burden: It should not be on that working woman to prove it, it should instead be on that large corporation to prove they’re paying people for equal work equally,” Harris said. “This is only about fairness and equality, it’s about transparency.”

Harris’ proposal will require corporations to obtain an “Equal Pay Certification” to prove that they are not paying women less for the same kind of work. To receive this certification, companies must “demonstrate they have eliminated pay disparities between women and men who are doing work of equal value.” If gaps do exist, they must prove them on the basis of “merit, performance, or seniority — not gender.”

Under the plan, companies with 100 or more employees will be required to obtain a certification from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within three years of the plan passing; companies with more than 500 employees will have two years. They must also hand their employment data over to the government and will be required to display this certification, or the lack thereof, on their company’s website.

“This will radically change the way we enforce pay in America,” the plan states. “Under our plan, for the first time in American history, companies will be held responsible for demonstrating they are not engaging in pay discrimination.”


Companies that do not receive certification will get penalties: for every one percent gap in pay that between men and women that persists after taking into account experience and job titles, they would have to pay one percent of their daily profits during that fiscal year.

Harris estimates that this punishment would generate around $180 billion in 10 years, which would be used to fund the FAMILY Act, a plan that she backs o ensure paid family and medical leave.

This is Harris’ third major policy rollout of her campaign, which is in line with her platform of “lifting families up.”

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