Friday, July 1, 2011

Apparently it’s a short trip from Wal-Mart to breast feeding

Last Friday, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis released the following statement about the Dukes v. Wal-Mart decision on the DOL’s Work in Progress blog:
The Court’s decision in the Walmart lawsuit made no ruling on whether America’s largest employer engaged in unlawful pay discrimination…. As Labor Secretary, I believe it is my responsibility to use my authority to close the pay gap so women can earn their fair share and provide the income support their families rely upon….
We also need to create more flexible workplaces so women don’t have to choose between motherhood and a fulfilling career. To that end, my Wage & Hour division has begun enforcing a new provision in the Affordable Care Act that guarantees break time for nursing mothers.
Let me get this straight. The Supreme Court simply decided that 1.5 million women, managed by thousands, if not tens of thousands, of different supervisors, lacked enough in common to bring their claims in one unified class action. From this holding, Secretary Solis makes the jump to conclude that breastfeeding working moms need more workplace flexibility. Am I missing something?
Secretary Solis concluded her comments by stating, “We’re living in the year 2011—not 1911.”

Madam Secretary, let me repeat what I said a few weeks ago, since apparently not everyone had the chance to read it:
So let’s not overreact to the Wal-Mart decision by arguing that its impact will take women back to the stone age, or, worse, the 1950s [or 1911]. Such knee-jerk overreactions unnecessarily polarize us into positions that do nothing to further the debate over the real issue—eliminating workplace discrimination.