Equal Pay Act

Equal Pay Act
The driving force behind the Equal Pay Act was indeed working women. The debate actually started in 1942â?”can you believe it! It began, however, as a request by the National War Labor Board for organizations to voluntarily pay American women (who were taking jobs in the war industries during World War II since most men were on the battlefield) the same salary paid to males for comparable quality and quantity of work on the same or similar operations.

Unfortunately (in many ways, I think), employers did not heed this voluntary request and at the war’s end, most women were pushed out of their new jobs to make room for returning veterans.

Now here’s a few historical facts that always take us by surprise:

(1) Until the early 1960’s, newspapers published separate job listings for men and women.
(2) In addition, jobs were categorized according to gender, with the higher level jobs listed almost exclusively for men under Help Wanted:Male.
(3) Some identical ads were place in both Help Wanted:Male and Help Wanted:Female sections, but at different pay rates. (In this case, you might say that the jobs were separate but unequal!)
(4) Between 1950-1960, women with full-time jobs earned on average between 59-64 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earned in the very same job.
(5) In 1999, women earned 72% as much as men.
(6) Since 1963, the closing of the wage gap between men & women has been at a rate of less than ½ a penny a year.

So,THEN came the Equal Pay Act in 1963. (It was signed in 1963 and became effective in 1964.) With the Act, it became illegal to pay women lower rates for the same job strictly on the basis of their gender.

Between 1964 and 1971, back wages totaling more than $26 million was paid to 71,000 women. Indeed, there were two landmark cases that served to strengthen and further define the EPA.

Schultz vs. Wheaton Glass Company (1970): The court ruled that jobs need to be â??substantially equalâ?? but not identical to fall under the protection of the EPA. An employer cannot, for example, change the job titles of women workers in order to pay them less than men.

Corning Glass Works vs. Brennan (1974): The court ruled that employers cannot justify paying women lower wages because that is what they traditionally received under the â??going market rate.â? A wage differential occurring simply because men would not work at the low rates paid women was unacceptable.

When in court under the Equal Pay Act, the plaintiff must prove:
*The work was â??equalâ? to that of men,
*The work was performed at the same establishment, and
*The rate of pay of plaintiff was indeed less.

The burden shifts to the employer to show pay differences based on:
*Quantity or quality of production
*Some factor other than gender
Such differences are allowed, but as I stated, MUST be demonstrated reasonably by the employer in a court of law.

These conditions seem archaic today, as do the gender-specific job ads of the 1960â??s! A lot has changed since the passage of the EPA. However, what hasn’t radically changed is women’s pay. While the wage gap has narrowed, it is still significant (especially when the research factors in that most top-level CEO/COO positions are held by men). And some say that women are held to a greater level of corporate scrutiny. Many businessmen and businesswomen alike found it interesting that Martha Stewart was prosecuted for her scandalous actions that involved under $100,000, while other CEOâ??s, COOâ??s, and CFOâ??s (Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, etc.) are still holding the courts at arms length. Their scandalous actions total well into the millions.

So, what’s good to know about the EPA?

(1) Equal pay does not mean identical; it means just substantially equal job duties
(2) Pay discrimination based on race, national origin, religion, etc. falls under Title VII, not the EPA
(3) Pay discrimination based on age falls under the Age Discrimination Act
(4) Pay discrimination based on disability falls under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

What do you think about paying people in different professions equally?

For instance: Some people might say: Isn’t it just common sense there are some professions that deserve to be paid the same? How can we say that one person’s job is more important than another person’s job? It takes ALL of us to make something work! So, why aren’t our salaries somehow closer together in range?

What thoughts and/or research might you share on this concept?

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