Promoting Equal Pay for Women: New Business Reporting Rule

Even with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, it is difficult to enforce federal civil rights laws about gender pay gaps unless there are employee reports. On average, women make about 79 cents for every dollar that men earn, which is a significant gender wage gap. A few methods that may help enforce equal pay for women are salary transparency and set salaries for positions.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 10, 2021

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Pay equity — the concept that equal work should be rewarded with equal pay, regardless of gender, race, or nationality — has proven to be a difficult principle to enforce.

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws that mandate pay equity, rarely becomes aware of violations of the employment labor law unless an employee reports them for violating equal pay for women.

Employees, in turn, rarely know what other employees in comparable positions are earning, because employers caution or require them to keep their salaries confidential. A proposed change in the law is designed to make it easier for the EEOC to discover pay equity violations.

The White House announced that it will issue an executive order requiring companies with more than one hundred employees to add salary information to a required report that lists the sex and age of employees in the company’s various job groups. Federal contractors have been required to provide similar information since 2014.

If you are suffering from employment wage gaps, use our free tool above to find a lawyer to help with civil law rights, employment issues, and more.

The Gender Wage Gap Explained

The gender pay gap definition is simply that gender pay gap statistics show men earn more than women, even with the same qualifications and work history. A half-century after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, mandating equal pay for equal work, a significant gap continues to separate the income earned by men and the income earned by women for the same employment.

According to The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), female workers in 2014 “made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 percent.”

Women earn less than men in every occupation for which the IWPR has been able to obtain sufficient data to permit a comparison.

One of the results of lower pay is that women find it harder to save money for retirement. A good piece of retirement planning advice for women is to ask for raises at work and negotiate salaries, as earning a well-deserved boost in income will help women put aside more retirement funds.

While the gap has been narrowing, progress has come at an alarmingly slow rate. If the gender gap continues to close at its present rate, the pay that women earn will not equal the pay that men earn for the same employment until 2059. The Equal Pay Act alone may be an inadequate remedy for disparate wages based on gender.

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How to Fix the Gender Wage Gap

Making salaries transparent by requiring their publication might be one way to reduce the gender gap. If female workers have access to evidence that they are earning less than male workers, they might take steps to demand enforcement of equal pay laws.

That approach has had some success in city governments, where payrolls are generally regarded as public information, although the gaps have typically been narrowed by lowering salaries paid to males rather than raising salaries paid to females.

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In the private sector, it is unclear that employees of either gender would necessarily want their salaries to be disclosed to the general public.

Some state laws prohibit employers from conditioning employment on the employee’s agreement to keep his or her salary confidential. Allowing employees to compare salaries makes it easier for them to discover violations of equal pay laws. A proposed federal law that would enact a similar nationwide ban has stalled in Congress.

An approach that some companies have adopted voluntarily is to set a salary based on each position and to pay that salary to each new hire regardless of the new employee’s qualifications or job history. When companies negotiate salaries with prospective employees, men typically fare better than women.

When companies base compensation on an employee’s salary history, women are penalized because they typically have a history of earning less than men.

Companies that pay fixed, nonnegotiable salaries reduce inequities. Whether that approach can be mandated by legislation, however, is questionable.

Freedom to contract (including the freedom to negotiate wages) is an entrenched value that cannot easily be brushed aside.

In addition to prohibiting employers from conditioning employment on the nondisclosure of compensation, the Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act. It would also amend federal law to make broader damages available to victims of sex discrimination, including discrimination in pay and other terms of employment.

Congress seems unlikely to enact that law this term, which may have prompted the administration’s recent decision to use an executive order to gather wage information that the Paycheck Fairness Act would have required employers to supply.

Have any states passed laws?

Some equal pay act examples include California’s enactment of a law that prohibits an employer “from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than those paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility.”

The bill allows employers to base pay differentials on merit, seniority, or other nondiscriminatory factors but places the burden on the employer to demonstrate that wage inequities are the result of those factors rather than gender. California’s burden-shifting approach may encourage employers to assure that salaries are based on appropriate factors.

Frequently Asked Questions: The Gender Wage Gap

If you still have questions about the equal pay act and closing the gender wage gap, read on. We’ve covered the most frequently asked questions about the gender wage gap in America.

#1 – What is the gender pay gap in the US?

According to the IWPR, the gender pay gap in the USA is about 79 cents per dollar. This means women are paid only 79 cents compared to every dollar that men earn.

#2 – Why is there a pay gap in gender?

Why are women paid less? The reasons behind this are complex, from differences in the hours worked or chosen industry. This is why there are many gender pay gap debunked articles and studies.

However, the pay gap is an issue when it is caused by gender discrimination and not outside factors like education and experience. If a woman and man have the same qualifications, they deserve to be paid the same.

#3 – Why should women get equal pay?

When you read gender pay gap articles, the resounding opinion is that women deserve equal pay to men. Whether it’s the gender pay gap in sports or business, women deserve to earn the same as men. Unfortunenlty, gender discrimination has resulted in women being paid less for the same job.

#4 – When was the equal pay act passed?

The equal pay act was passed in 1963.  However, the equal pay act in 2020/2021 needs to change to reflect the new issues that have arisen with the gender pay gap in 2020/2021.

#5 – How long will it take to close the gender pay gap?

The gender wage gap will take time to close. Globally, experts estimate it will take over a hundred years to close, while in America, experts estimate it will still take decades to eradicate.

If you have been paid unfairly because of your gender, enter your ZIP code in our free tool below to find a lawyer in your area.

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