Compensation discrimination occurs when a woman gets paid less than a man for doing the same job. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 sought to correct this inequity and the negative effects of wage differentials between men and women, and eliminate the pay gap and pay discrimination. Specifically, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 mandates that women and men be given equal pay for equal work in the same workplace. The job function does not have to be identical but the job content must be substantially equal. Notably, job title does not determine whether the jobs are “Substantially Equal” but rather the job content. In enacting the Equal Pay Act, Congress found that wage differentials based on gender depressed wages and living standards, prevented maximum utilization of available labor resources, tended to cause labor disputes, which burden and obstruct commerce, and constituted an unfair method of competition.
In 1980, women earned 60 cents for every dollar earned by a man. While the gender pay gap narrowed through the 1980s and 1990s, it has remained fairly steady since the mid 2000s. At present, the gender pay gap varies from 12 to 23 percent depending on age. This means that at the low end, women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, and on the high end, women earn 88 cents for every dollar earned by a man – the more advanced in a career, the greater the difference. Currently, women are outpacing men in getting college degrees. However, this hasn’t been enough to close the gender pay gap. Specifically, studies looking at male and female counterparts having the same education, the same grades, and making similar career and family choices, have found that women make 5% less straight out of college, which increases to 12 % less over ten years. This disparity, of men and women in the same job getting paid unequal amounts is what the Equal Pay Act is continually working to eliminate.
All forms of workplace pay are protected by the The Equal Pay Act of 1963 including overtime pay, stock options, salary, bonuses, bonus plans, profit sharing, vacation, benefits, hotel accommodations, holiday pay, gasoline allowances, and travel expenses.
An employee or applicant alleging a charge of compensation discrimination under The Equal Pay Act of 1963 can file suit directly in court without first filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). There are different remedies available to victims of discrimination. Most importantly, the goal of the law is to put the victim in the same position (or as near to the same position as possible) that he or she would have been in had the discrimination not occurred. The types of relief vary and can include an individual being placed in a job, or given a promotion that he or she was previously denied, and payment of back pay or benefits that would have been earned. Both compensatory damages, which are costs actually incurred by an individual, including emotional harm suffered, and punitive damages, meant to punish an employer for discriminatory acts, can potentially be awarded in employment discrimination cases.
It is also illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to discriminate based on Sex / Gender in benefits and pay. In practicality, an Equal Pay violation may also be actionable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Individuals who live on Long Island or in the New York Metro area, including Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island who have experienced compensation discrimination in the workplace should contact an employment discrimination attorney to properly assert your rights.