Hillary Clinton has mentioned “equal pay for equal work” numerous times on the campaign trail, implying that women are being discriminated against regularly across the country.

The truth is, women are being paid equally for equal work (except, probably, in rare instances) but the fact of the matter is that most workers are not actually equal. Some workers have more experience, some work longer hours, some negotiated their pay better. Except in very specific jobs where pay is controlled, it’s hard to find two people with the exact same experience, working the same hours, with the same skills.

But Clinton went a step beyond that deception, saying that it was “legal” for employers to retaliate against workers who discuss their pay.

“That’s legal: If you find out about somebody else’s salary even if you’re doing exactly the same job, you can be retaliated against, including being fired, in most places,” Clinton said at a recent campaign event in Tampa.

The Washington Post’s fact checker, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, gave Clinton two pinocchios for the statement.

For starters, it’s not actually legal for employers to retaliate. The National Labor Relations Act protects employees from such retaliation. Now, Lee pointed out, there are some exceptions, such as government workers, but many of them are covered by President Obama’s non-retaliation executive order.

Lee also noted that employers can’t regulate the discussion of pay unless they have a “legitimate and substantial business reason to do so.” This usually is restricted to disallowing employers from discussing pay during work hours.

Marcia Greenberger of the National Women’s Law Center said the law is a “paper tiger in many instances” because employees don’t know about the protections.

But, Lee noted, the protection does exist, even if some employees aren’t covered.

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“Clinton goes too far saying that it’s ‘legal’ for employees to be retaliated against or fired after discussing their pay with co-workers,” Lee concluded. “Had she avoided the word ‘legal,’ this claim may qualify for One Pinocchio, since there are existing gaps in the law and inconsistent application of it that have led to the types of retaliation she describes.”

Bottom line: This, like the gender wage gap, is far more complex than Clinton and most other Democratic politicians want you to believe. There’s room for criticism, but to say that retaliation is “legal” is disingenuous.

Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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