John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law on June 10, 1963, in order to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act and end wage discrimination based on sex. Despite its intentions, employers still violate the Equal Pay Act, and women continue to earn less. However, these violations aren’t always as obvious and straightforward as one might think, which makes learning to recognize them all the more critical.
Substantially equal jobs should pay the same, and for jobs to get considered substantially equal, they do not have to be exact copies. Still, they should require a similar level of skill, effort, and responsibility. Many female employees aren’t aware of this fact and go underpaid by their employers simply because of their gender.
In most cases, this likely isn’t because an employer simply decides to pay a female employee less; instead, there are unconscious biases that an employer may have. Even though a woman and a man might work substantially equal jobs, an employer may automatically and unconsciously view a woman as having less experience, education, or seniority. As a result, they may pay a woman less, and though this might be an unconscious practice, it is still illegal.
All too often, women get forced into caregiver roles that can interfere with their level of education and job experience. This severely limits the types of jobs women can apply for and receive, directly impacting their income. As their careers and education advance, so should their titles and overall salary, but this is not always the case. Some employers rely on this past salary information to dictate salary offers despite many states prohibiting this practice. Due to the social factors that impact how women may start their careers, relying on past salary information leads to lower salaries for women when they deserve higher pay.
As mentioned, employers may follow unconscious biases or even biases they are aware of. One factor contributing to unequal pay is how women obtain social currency and how easily they can lose it. To explain, many women do not ask for or get rejected for a raise. In asking for a pay raise, women can come off as “bossy,” “demanding,” “rude,” or “arrogant.” When this occurs, women pay a hefty social price, and due to the expectations of how a woman should act, employers may refuse a well-earned raise or let them go altogether. This gets compounded by the fact that society views women as less competent and incapable of being good leaders.
Ultimately, employers violate the Equal Pay Act by failing to understand society’s impacts on women’s careers and the roles they get forced into. This directly affects how employers see their female employees, thus forming and perpetuating sexist biases and practices. As stated, it is often less of a direct decision and more of a willful ignorance.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of this kind of wage violation, contact the Law Firm of Tamara N. Holder today. We’ll put you in contact with an experienced pay discrimination lawyer so you can receive the compensation you deserve.