The Creation and Effects of the Equal Pay ActIn a perfect world matterssuch as discrimination and harassment would not occur in any plane ofexistence.
However, the world as it is today is far from flawless. This worldalso includes the American society. The changes in society are constantlyfueling the demand for equality and fair treatment. American women today arefighting different battles than their earlier generations. American women ingeneral no longer have to fight for the right to take birth control, to votefor whom they want to see in office, or for safe work environments. The demand for women to be treated as equalsin an employment aspect is still on the top of the list. Women have desired tobe paid the same wages as their male counterparts for centuries. Throughouthistory, women in the U.
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S have made many strides forward in their battle forequality and the Equal Pay Act is one of their many accomplishments. Such events as the TriangleShirtwaist Factory Fire (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2011)and Muller v State of Oregon, 208 U.
S. 412 (1908) (Skelton) are reminders ofwomen’s battles for equality in the workplace. The Equal Pay Act, or EPA, was astepping stone resulting from the desire for women to progress further insociety rather than their assigned roles and requirements. Almost 43 yearsprior to EPA, women made a huge advancement in their mission when The Women’sBureau was formed. (Women’s Bureau, n.d.)Previously known as the Womenin Industry Service (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2011),the Women’s Bureau was created in 1920 after a bill was passed by congressestablishing the group as part of the Department of Labor by Public Law No.
259 (Women’s Bureau, n.d.).The Bureau’s duty “formulate standards and policies which shall promote thewelfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase theirefficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment.” Theirmission statement declares “Women in the workforce are vital to the nation’seconomic security. The Women’s Bureau develops policies and standards andconducts inquiries to safeguard the interests of working women; to advocate fortheir equality and economic security for themselves and their families; and topromote quality work environments.” (Women’s Bureau, n.
d.)The development of this bureauplayed essential part of change in the discrimination of women’s wages. (Manzano-Diaz, n.d.)The Equal Pay Act was an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938), FLSA,which was protected under the United States Department of Labor.
(U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
However, thecreation of this act did not come swiftly or without a fight. The EPA wentthrough almost 18 years of attempts, failures, modifications, andreintroductions before finally passing. The first attempt was when Congressintroduced the Women’s Equal Pay Act in 1945 after huge increase in thepresence of women in the workplace during World War II. (National Park Service)Women went from consisting of a merely 24% of the workforce to 37%.Unions began pushing for womento have larger and more equal wages. Though the idea is admirable, it was notwithout motives. While more and more men left for the war, their jobs were leftvacant.
Women began filling these jobs at much lower wages. The fear was thatthe new inexpensive labor provided by female employees would ultimatelysubstitute the male employees or ultimately lower their wages. Due to theseconcerns, the National War Labor Board pushed for women to receive equal payfor work considered “comparable quality and quantity.” (National Park Service).The bill ultimately failed and after the war women’s presence in the workplacedropped over 10% and were replaced by the men returning from the war.The 1950’s were a time ofeconomic growth, and regardless of their treatment after the war, women wereencouraged to work.
Throughout the 1950’s several versions of the EPA werepresented and continually denied. At the start of the 1960’s women were makingup 38% of the U.S. workforce. Women’s wages remained lower than men’s whilesociety still allowed women to only work certain jobs and preferred only parttime employment. (Striking Women).
The head of theWomen’s Bureau, Esther Peterson, urged President John F. Kennedy to form the PresidentialCommission on the Status of Women. After much effort and an enormous amount ofresearch and data collecting, Peterson formed the draft that would changeeverything in the attempt to change the wage gap. (National Park Service)(Manzano-Diaz, n.d.)On June 10th, 1963,John F, Kennedy signed the United States labor law known as the Equal Pay Act.The EPA is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which isenforced by the United States Department of Labor.
While this was part ofJ.F.K’s larger efforts to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicantsare employed without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin” (MacLaury, 2010), it was a huge win for women in the workforce. However, their battle againstdiscrimination still continues.The Equal Pay Act of 1963Whatdid the passing of EPA truly detail for women and what should they expect? Congress’s approval of EPA forbids “sex-based wage discrimination betweenmen and women in the same establishment who perform jobs that requiresubstantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar workingconditions.” (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) This prohibits the “depresseswages and living standards for employees necessary for their health and efficiency;prevents the maximum utilization of the available labor resources; tends tocause labor disputes, thereby burdening, affecting, and obstructing commerce, burdenscommerce and the free flow of goods in commerce, and constitutes an unfairmethod of competition.
” (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, n.d.) Congress declared in the EPA’s “Declarationof Purpose,” this type of discrimination: “Depresseswages and living standards for employees necessary for their health andefficiency;’ Prevents maximum utilization of the available labor resources andtends to cause labor disputes, thereby burdening, affecting, and obstructingcommerce; and Constitutes an unfair method of competition.” (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2003) Whilethe EPA was an amendment to the FLSA, it is no longer enforced by the UnitedStates Department of Labor.
During President Carter’s administration in 1977,the federal government went through some restructuring. (Eyraud, 1993) The EPA was thentransferred from the jurisdictionenforced by DOL to the U.S. EqualEmployment Opportunity Commission. EEOC, was formed in in 1964 by Congress withthe creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination in thework place. (Chapter 2 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
. The EPA is theoldest workplace civil rights law enforced by the EEOC and is older than thecommission itself.TheEEOC enforces a numerous amount of lawssuch as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), Title I of theAmericans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Sections 501 and 505 of theRehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964(Title VII) and its various amendments. TitleVII also makes it illegal to discriminate based on sex in pay and benefits.Therefore, someone who has an Equal Pay Act claim may also have a claim underTitle VII.
(U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)Required ElementsIn 2016 the EEOC received 1,075 equal wagediscrimination complaints. However, 772 or 64% of complaints received by theEEOC were ruled to have “no reasonable cause” for their case. (Equal Pay Act Charges (Charges filed with EEOC)) What do plaintiffsneed to prove that they have been discriminated against? In order for a victimto have a solid case they must conclude their employer has violated the EPA. “Thus,to establish a prima facie case under the Equal Pay Act, a plaintiff must show:(1) that his or her employer is subject to the Act; (2) that he or sheperformed work in a position requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibilityunder similar working conditions; and (3) that he or she was paid less than theemployees of the opposite sex providing the comparison.” (Carey, Equal Pay Discrimination, 2011) Some others components that wouldimprove their case is not receiving equal employee pensions , insurancecoverage, profit sharing, vacation time, bonuses, and right to use to company equipment basedon their gender.
While the EPA was originally intended to safeguard women, itdoes defend both genders from being discriminated against. (Tipton, 2017)Employees who believe they are victims of gender wagediscrimination should keep in mind a few essential factors. First, EPA allowsfor wage variances when individuals are assessed based on conditions such as seniority,production levels, and value to their position. Secondly, victims will have totake on the affliction of providing evidence verifying they have been given inadequatewages based on the discrimination solely on their gender.
Other types ofdiscrimination might fall under different acts and laws or are protected byvarying federal agencies.How can an employer defendthemselves against accusations of violating the EPA? If there’s a dissimilarityin pay, an employer must prove that it’s warranted by: a seniority system, amerit system, a pay system based on quantity or quality of output, any otherfactor other than sex. (Moran, 2016) Debra Lawrence, aregional attorney in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, says “the firstthree factors are pretty straightforward, that last “catch-all” category iswhere employers get creative.” Lawrence continues stating in her interview withMoran, that “Equal Pay Act intent-neutral. In other words,it doesn’t matter whether you meant to pay an employee less because ofgender—the fact that you did it is enough. Once the disparity is established,the burden of proof that the reason was a legitimate one is on the employer,who should be able to show that any policy that resulted in disproportionatepay is in place throughout the organization.” (Moran, 2016)Can employers prevent wagediscrepancies based on gender discrimination? To prevent gender pay gap,employers can take precautions such as “conducting equal pay audits withtransparent results and methodology, increasing transparency about pay, banningthe use of salary history and negotiation to set compensation, and movingtowards clearer compensation metrics for staff.
” (Carey, Why Won’t Men Pay Women More?, 2017)EPA’s filling process. There are some major considerations a plaintiff must consider beforefilling a claim of gender discrimination resulting in unfair wages. First, thecomplainant must contemplate which act to fill with the EEOC. EPA onlyprohibits wage discrimination based solely gender compared to Title VII’scoverage of all employment discrimination. (AAUW) Therefore, someonewho has an Equal Pay Act claim may also have a claim under Title VII. However,the EPA, Title VII, the ADEA, or the ADA does not require jobs be substantiallyequal. (U.S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).In regards to the statute of limitations of filing a claim, The Lilly LedbetterFair Pay Act (2009) ensures plaintiffs have up to 180 days after the mostrecent paycheck that reflects unequal wages to file a charge with the EEOC. (United States Women’s Bureau , 2012) In an article forthe Virginia Lawyer Magazine writtenby Broderick Dunn, Dunn explains” The Service Employees International Unionsaid the Act “strengthens the rights of women and all workers to pursuerjustice for wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion,nation origin, age, or disability.”” (Dunn, 2009)Another entity to consider, recommendby the American Association of University Women (AAUW), are the advantages anddisadvantages of filing under each act. (AAUW) In an online article”Equal Pay and Discrimination against Women” by FindLaw, they describe “Factors in favor of filing under the EPA:(i) no need to wait to file a complaint with the EEOC; (ii) if you work for acompany with fewer than 15 employees you can sue under the EPA; (iii) EPAclaims, unlike Title VII claims, do not need to prove the discrimination wasintentional. Proving intent is difficult and makes EPA claims easier to win incourt. ;( iv) longer statute of limitations–two or three years (depending onwhether the discrimination was willful or not) for EPA claims and 180 days forTitle VII claims” whereas “Factors in favor of filing under Title VII: (i) thebiggest advantage is you can win more money–not only can you recover lostwages, but you can seek money for pain and suffering.
“Once all issues and concernshave been weighted out and the choice to rely on the EPA, the victim may then filea claim with EEOC or directly file a lawsuit. The AAUW also recommends: “(1) Recordthe discriminatory pay practices you believe are taking place. Keep copies ofyour salary records and pay stubs. (2)Talk to your employer. Your company mayhave an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer or another way for you to file acomplaint.
For instance, some companies offer mediation or other tools toresolve problems. Check your employee handbook for procedures. (3)Keep doing agood job and keep a record of your work. Keep copies at home of your jobevaluations and any letters or memos that show that you do a good job at work.(4)Seek support from friends and family. Discrimination at work is a difficultthing to face alone, and the process of fighting discrimination can be verystressful.” (AAUW)Previous Cases and Remedies. Once the victim hasprovided all three essential elements needed to establish a prima facie case,the evaluating of the situation begins.
The employer must then prove one of the fouraffirmative defense. In Carey’s article, “Equal Pay Discrimination” he explainsthat in order for the employer “To rebut the prima facie case, an employer hasseveral affirmative defenses under FEPA, including that the discrepancyresulted from a pay system based on: (1) seniority; (2) merit; (3) quantity orquality of production; or (4) another differential based on a factor other thansex.” (Carey, Equal Pay Discrimination, 2011)In regards to defense of seniority, the defendantmust prove the demonstration of a bona fide seniority system must be verified.
The employer would have to have regularlyconsidered seniority instead of simply a case-by-case basis and consistent inthe decisions. Wage differences constructed on a bona fideseniority system do not infringe the EPA an example of successful defense wouldbe Strag v. Board of Trustees. ( Instructions For Sex Discrimination Claims Under the Equal Pay Act, 2014). Thurza Straginitiated an action against Appellee, Craven Community College alleging thatthe substantial discrepancy between her salary and that of Linwood Swain wasbased on gender differences, and thus violated of the Equal Pay Act. TheCollege’s salary plan for instructorswas based on a scale which was formulated in regards base salary, educationalstatus, and years of work experience. While both instructors were hired at thesame time and both possessed the same level of education, Swain had twenty-fouryears of teaching experience while Strag only had nine years.
The ruling was infavor of the defendant since the pay scale applied to both men and women, notjust men. ( STRAG v. BOARD OF TRUSTEES, 1995). Employer’s Liability. Themajority of employment litigation pertains to discrimination claims.
UnderTitle VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act,and the Americans with Disabilities Act, only the employer has liability. Theperceived individual wrongdoer cannot be sued and is not liable for any damagesunder these laws, even if he or she behaved with intentional malice. However,the previous protections from personal liability are now being eclipsed by avariety of personal liability causes of action. Under the Equal Pay Act One mayname individuals personally as defendants and collect damages from them underseveral laws. (GREGG, 2013)