Even when women have the educational background, same seniority or work experience, they are often paid less than their male counterparts. This inequity exists at all levels of employment. Fair pay legislation provides an important tool for remedying this inequity, but more transparency is needed to ensure that employers are following the law and treating workers fairly.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act vastly improved the principle of equal pay for equal work by covering forms of gender-based discrimination affecting women’s earnings. Title VII outlawed sex- based discrimination at all stages and in all aspects of employment, including hiring, promotion, and termination, enabling women to tackle a key contributor to the gender wage gap: their exclusion from higher-paying jobs and from certain industries. Under Title VII, an employee can challenge not only unequal pay between men and women, but also discriminatory practices that lead to unequal compensation, such as steering women to lower-paid jobs or maintaining “glass ceilings.”
Through the Equal Pay Act of 1963 ("EPA"), men and women are entitled to equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. The EPA provides that employers may not pay unequal wages to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment.
Many State and Local laws provide enhanced protections against pay discrimination and further the goal of closing the gender wage gap. For instance, New York State goes further to ensure that no employee is paid a wage at a rate less than that of an employee of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work. In New York City, as of October 31, 2017, employers are prohibited from asking a job applicant about their salary history.
GELC provides free legal services to those who have experienced gender-based discrimination in the workplace. If you you wish to speak with a member of our legal team about an equal pay issue at work, call our Hotline at (888) 833-4363.
Factors that Contribute to the Gender Wage Gap
Women are paid less than men in nearly every occupation for the same work
Women are segregated into female-dominated jobs that typically pay less than male-dominated jobs
but require similar skill
Widespread pay secrecy policies prevent workers from discovering disparities
Discrimination relating to pregnancy and caregiving responsibilities depresses women’s pay
Wage theft (e.g., being paid less than the minimum wage or being forced to work off the clock) takes a hard hit on women, who comprise two-thirds of the minimum wage earners in this country.