On June 10th 1963, President John F Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, to prohibit discrimination “on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce”
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) was seen as a vehicle to improve the conditions of the American labor force, which had been become mired with disputes arising from wage disparities between male and female employees.
According to Borgna Brunner, until the early 1960s, newspapers published separate job listings for men and women. Jobs were categorized according to sex, with the higher level jobs listed almost exclusively under “Help Wanted—Male.” In some cases the ads ran identical jobs under male and female listings—but with separate pay scales. Separate, of course, meant unequal: between 1950 and 1960, women with full time jobs earned on average between 59–64 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earned in the same job.
At the time of the EPA’s signing, there were about three female employees for every seven male employees. The female employee earned less than 60 cents for every dollar earned by a male employee. Female employees also received fewer benefits.
Since the signing of the EPA, there were two important court rulings which tightened its interpretation and enforcement. In Schultz v. Wheaton Glass Company 421 F2d 259 (1970), the court ruled that jobs only needed to be “substantially equal” but not “identical” to fall within the EPA. In Corning Glassworks v. Brennan 417 U.S. 188 (1974), the court ruled that employers cannot justify paying women less because of their availability to work day shifts as opposed to men who were paid more to work nights shifts aka “going market rate.”
Today, almost half a century later, the American labor force is still burdened with violations of the law against compensation discrimination. Although there are significantly more female employees than ever before, female employees still only earn a little over 75 cents for every dollar that male employees earn for a “substantially equal” but, not “identical” job.
As reported by the National Equal Pay Task Force, “the ‘gender gap’ in pay still persists” – and is even greater for females of color. According to its findings, African-American female employees earned 64 cents and Latina female employees earned 56 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian male employee.
According to President Barack Obama, “Right now, women are a growing number of breadwinners in the household. But they’re still earning just 77 cents for every dollar a man does—even less if you’re an African American or Latina woman. Overall, a woman with a college degree doing the same work as a man will earn hundreds of thousands of dollars less over the course of her career. So closing this pay gap— ending pay discrimination—is about far more than simple fairness. When more women are bringing home the bacon, but bringing home less of it than men who are doing the same work, that weakens families, it weakens communities, it’s tough on our kids, it weakens our entire economy.”
It is quite simple, male and female employees should receive “equal pay for equal work.”
According to the EEOC, in 2011, there were 919 EPA complaints filed against employers. This statistic represents a significant decrease in equal pay charges being filed over the past ten years – which may indicate that employees are frustrated with the process or may be filing more lawsuits directly in the courts.
On June 5, 2012, Senate Republicans “blocked” H.R. 1519 aka “Paycheck Fairness Act.” The “Paycheck Fairness Act” was proposed to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.
If you feel that you’ve been the victim of compensation discrimination, or would like to have an attorney review your documents to ensure that your rights are protected, contact the New York Compensation Lawyer at The Sanders Firm, P.C., today. Your voice for justice.