Marco Rubio: equal pay laws "help trial lawyers collect their fees"


WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 18: Marco Rubio speaks to attendees at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on February 18, 2010 in Washington, DC. Rubio is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Florida. (Photo by Robert Giroux/Getty Images)


Robert Giroux

Florida senator Marco Rubio is standing by fellow Republican Mitt Romney's opposition to a law requiring equal pay for women. 

He told ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that he agrees with the Lilly Ledbetter Act in principle but does not agree with the legislation because it will benefit trial lawyers.

"Just because they call a piece of legislation an equal pay bill doesn't make it so," Rubio said.

"In fact, much of this legislation is, in many respects, nothing but an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits, which may not contribute at all whatsoever to increasing pay equity in the workplace."

The 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act made it illegal for female executives to be paid less than their male co-workers. It was the first law that President Obama signed and one of the most popular, according to the International Business Times. 

Rubio said he supported the idea behind the fair pay law and did not suggest it should be repealed. 

“If you’re the most qualified person for the job, you should be able to get paid — you should get paid as much as your male counterpart,” Rubio said. “Everyone agrees with that principle.”

According to Salon, a top Romney aid told the magazine that the candidate would have opposed the Fair Pay Act when the legislation was proposed in 2009 but that he would not repeal the act if made president. 

However, Romney aide Ed Gillespie later corrected his position. 

“I was wrong when I said last night Governor Romney opposed the Lily Ledbetter act,” according to a statement Gillespie sent ABC News. “He never weighed in on it. As President, he would not seek to repeal it.”

This is not the first time top Republicans have spoken out against legislation requiring equal protection for women. 

In June, Senate Repubicans filibustered legislation proposed by Democrats that would strengthen protections for women in the workplace, "in part by forbidding employers from retaliating against women who sue for pay discrimination," reports Talking Points Memo. 

At the time, Rubio called the fair pay act political stunt. 

“It’s pure election-year politics,” TPM quoted Rubio as saying. “This bill reads more to me like some sort of a welfare plan for trial lawyers.”