Californians are slowly waking up to the fact that men and women don’t get paid the same amounts for the same efforts. More often than not — especially when you look at national averages — men get paid higher wages than women for the same type, quantity and quality of work.
Unequal pay based on gender is not only immoral and unfair, but is also unlawful. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) protects the sexes from unequal compensation.
If you feel that you’re being paid unequally because of your gender, keep reading to better understand your legal rights under the Act.
Sex-based wage discrimination is unlawful
The EPA of 1963 is part of the amended Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The EPA prohibits sex-based wage discrimination among men and women who are employed at the same company and perform work that requires a similar level of skill, responsibility and effort and is performed under similar working conditions.
To paraphrase the EPA, here are the four most important protections the act offers:
No wage discrimination based on sex. No employer will discriminate by paying the opposite sex less than what it pays the other sex for similar work requiring similar skills under similar conditions. The only exemption to this rule is when (1) the unequal pay is based on a seniority system, (2) a merit system, (3) a system that measures how much work was produced, or (4) some other system for determining pay that functions independently of sex. Furthermore, employers shall not reduce the wages of employees in order to comply with this measure.
No pressure from organized labor to institute sex-based wage discrimination. Labor organizations cannot organize themselves in a way to cause an employer to implement discriminatory wage practices based on sex.
Wages withheld due to sex discrimination are unpaid wages owed. The amount of wages withheld from an employee in violation of the EPA shall be viewed as unpaid wages owed to the affected employee.
Have you lost money because of sex-based wage discrimination?
Losing money because of gender-based wage discrimination is more common than you might think. If you suspect you’re the victim of such abuse, you can submit an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint without fear of retaliation from your employer. These complaints, however, can be complicated to navigate, so make sure you fully understand your legal rights and options.