The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963 to prohibit wage discrimination in the workplace. If a man and woman are both employed in the same or a substantially similar position, perform similar duties, and have the same level of experience or qualifications, it is unlawful for employers to pay them differently. Likewise, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and many states' anti-discrimination laws prohibit paying a female employee less because of her gender.
These laws also apply to other benefits, such as overtime pay, vacation and sick pay, travel expenses, and health insurance. Nevertheless, an illegal, two-tiered compensation system still exists in many workplaces.
Who's being paid less
Despite the passage of the Equal Pay Act and other anti-discrimination laws, some employers continue to pay employees unfairly based on gender and ethnicity. CNBC reports that:
- African American women earned only $0.63 to every dollar earned by white men who share the same duties and are employed in the same position.
- For Native American women, it was $0.57 to every dollar.
- For Latina women, it was $0.54 to every dollar.
- White women earned higher wages, but still at $0.79 to every dollar earned by men who share the same duties and are employed in the same position.
- Asian American women earned the highest at $0.87 to every dollar.
Know your rights as a woman in the workplace
According to the U.S. Department of Education, women are more likely to obtain bachelor's degrees than men. In fact, this year alone, more than six million full-time college students were female, while fewer than five million were male. Even so, many women are still being paid less for performing the same work as men.
Women of color make up 17 percent of the workforce - but they make up a disproportionate 33 percent of employees in low-paying jobs such as retail, fast food service, and personal care. Many of them earn only the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which is practically unlivable.
It's shocking to know that in more than 50 years after passage of the Equal Pay Act, women still face wage discrimination in the workplace. When it comes to unfair gender pay, there are no loopholes. Employers who engage in discrimination are breaking the law. And they should be held accountable for their actions.
What you can do
You worked hard to get to where you are. No matter your gender, race, or ethnicity, you deserve fair treatment and fair compensation. While many employers keep company wages secret, there are steps you can take if you suspect that you're being paid unfairly.
Don't take no for an answer. Take a stand. Talk to an experienced employment law attorney at Nilges Draher LLC. Our attorneys can help fight for your equality. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.