Here’s the thing, unequal pay in the workplace isn’t just unfair, it’s illegal. It seems like simple logic that when a woman performs the same job as a man, she should receive the same pay. But that’s rarely the case. We are certainly in a better place than we were 50, 20, or even five years ago…but we have a long way to go until equal pay is a reality for every American worker.
Equal Pay Act and Title VII
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) holds that men and women should receive equal pay if they complete equal work in the same workplace. This applies to all forms of pay, including salaries, benefits, stock options, and vacation pay. If a worker believes that her EPA rights have been violated, she must file an EPA charge within two to three years of the alleged violation, depending on the underlying circumstances. A Boston employment law attorney can help you determine if your EPA rights have been violated. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also makes sex-based discrimination for pay and benefits illegal. Thus, someone whose rights have been violated may have an EPA claim and a Title VII claim.
Pay Inequality Statistics
It is an unfortunate fact that American women continue to earn substantially less than their male counterparts. The statistics below illustrate just how deep this problem runs.
- Women who work full time earn about 84.6 percent of what full-time male workers earn.
- For African American women, it’s even worse; they earn approximately 72 cents for every dollar earned by male workers.
- Latina workers suffer the most, earning 60 cents for every dollar earned by men.
- Unequal pay is even an issue in female-dominated industries, such as childcare and housekeeping. In these industries, women earn approximately 95 percent of what their male counterparts earn.
Further, women must often work longer to get promoted. The following statement was taken from UrbanMinistry.org, “”women may work longer to receive the promotions that provide access to higher pay. For example, among school principals, women have an average of 3 years longer as teachers than men do.”
If you feel that your EPA or Title VII rights are being violated, it’s important to create a paper trail. Document as much as you legally can; this can include copies of published job descriptions, length of employment, and pay data. A MA employment law attorney can analyze your case to help you determine if your rights have been violated, and advise you on how to collect evidence of these violations.
Pay Secrecy is Illegal
The reality is, if the stigma of discussing pay disappeared, unequal pay would probably disappear along with it. Many companies have policies about not discussing pay, but these policies are also illegal. So-called “pay secrecy policies” have been prohibited for about 80 years, but in 2014, President Obama signed an executive order to provide further protections for employees who openly discuss their salaries. “Pay secrecy fosters discrimination and we should not tolerate it,” said Obama, “not in federal contracting or anywhere else.” Continue reading