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Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (Equal Pay Act) was an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act and a pre-cursor to the Civil Rights Act. The Equal Pay Act works in conjunction with the Civil Rights Act to prohibit sex-based discrimination in employment compensation. Covered employers cannot compensate employees differently based upon sex. More specifically, the Act requires equal pay if workers perform equal work in jobs requiring “equal skill, effort, and responsibility . . . performed under similar working conditions…”. Title VII was necessary for complete protection against sex discrimination, as the Equal Pay Act did not address other forms of discrimination based upon sex. The Equal Pay Act relies heavily upon statistical analysis of disparities in pay, benefits, and promotion across the organization.
• Note: The employee must file an EEOC charge within 180 or 300 days (depending on whether there is a collateral filing in her state) or lose her claim. The Lilly Ledbetter Act of 2009 makes the 180-day period for filing a claim begin to run on the date that the last discriminatory payment is received.
• Discussion: How do you feel about the requirement for equal compensation across sexes for similar jobs? When do two different jobs entail “equal skill, effort, and responsibility [and] . . . performed under similar working conditions.” Should there be an affirmative duty on employers to make certain pay is commensurate? Should an employee’s attempt or willingness to negotiate for a given salary be considered?
• Practice Question: Mary has been working at her firm for 10 years. There are five employees in her department that do her same job. The other four employees are male. She recently learned that she is paid approximately 10% lower that all of her colleagues. If Mary decides to sue her employer for sex-based discrimination, what information would she have to show to support a cause of action?