Case Study: The Comparable Worth Debate

1428 words - 6 pages

In the last month, Twin Oaks Hospital, a private facility in Lexington, Colorado has had a growing problem with mounting discontent about pay levels amongst the nursing and secretarial-clerical employees. Nearby, Lexington Memorial Hospital, a public facility, recently agreed to give those same workers at their hospital a 5 percent pay increase and to launch a job evaluation program that would use comparable worth to evaluate the nursing and secretarial-clerical jobs. The disgruntled workers at Twin Oaks have met with union organizers about their concerns, and the workers’ spokeswomen have brought their requests to David Hardy, director of personnel at Twin Oaks. Their three main requests were for a situation similar to Lexington Memorial: an immediate 5 percent pay increase, the establishment of a job evaluation system using comparable worth, and a pledge to use the findings of the evaluations as the basis of future wage adjustments. Hardy has been monitoring the situation and has brought the requests to James Bledsoe, the hospital director, who asks for Hardy’s recommendation within three days. In turn, Hardy meets with his top aides, Janet Sawyer and Charles Cooper, concerning the situation, and the three try to hash out a solution. The conversation mostly revolves around the efficacy of using comparable worth to evaluate jobs, with Janet being in favor of it and Charles clearly not.
Janet states her case in favor of comparable worth first. She points out the fact that nationwide, there is a considerable gap between the pay levels of predominantly male and female jobs. This is despite the fact that there is no difference between the median education levels of men and women. She also points out the fact that there is probably that same disparity in their own hospital right now as well. Finally, she uses a few real world examples that show the growing precedent for using comparable worth-based pay adjustments, but Charles is quick to point out that her examples are from the public sector, while their problem concerns business in the private sector. He will concede that the employees probably need a five percent pay increase to stay competitive with Lexington Memorial, but he remains unequivocally opposed to using comparable worth in job evaluations for three reasons. One, he believes that it destroys the free market system. He says that the market does discriminate, but does not use gender as a determinant; rather, supply and demand determine a job’s worth. He agrees that the wage gap exists, but points to U.S. Department of Labor study that shows that over 50% of the wage gap between men and women is due to vocational training, industries women choose, and geographic location, not gender. Second, he questions how the program would even be implemented, noting that everybody in the hospital would need to be evaluated by it, and even then, it would have to be by the same agreed-upon set of factors that would be uniform for all job...

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