Women and Equal Pay: Gaps Remain

Gender Gap

Equal pay for women in the workplace is still an issue, despite a Supreme Court ruling more than 56 years ago that sought to end wage disparity based on gender. According to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers cannot discriminate on the basis of sex by paying a member of one sex less than they pay a member of the opposite sex for equal work.

But what many women have experienced since then is far from equality. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman appointed to the highest court in the U.S., summed up the issue in a recent discussion at Georgetown University Law Center. “What we were doing in the ’70s was getting rid of the overt, the explicit gender-based classifications,” she said. “There was nothing subtle about it. It was, ‘women can’t do this, and they can’t do that.’ Almost all of those explicit barriers are gone. What remains is often what’s been called unconscious bias.”

Many women continue to face bias. In 2018, a Pew Research Center analysis found that women overall earned 85 percent of what men earned, or an estimated pay gap of $0.15 on the dollar. That’s an improvement from the $0.36 pay gap women experienced in 1980, but it’s still not equal.

As an attorney who focuses on the rights of women, in particular, in the workplace, I am highly aware of the abuses of power regarding equal pay. It’s a form of gender discrimination in the workplace. Gender discrimination is defined as unfair treatment based on a person’s sex. Unfair treatment may include promotions, pay raises or even sexual harassment. While most gender discrimination is largely directed toward women, it’s possible for anyone to be discriminated against because of gender.

Another Pew Research Center survey, from 2017, showed that 42 percent of women said they have experienced gender discrimination at work, compared with 22 percent of men who said the same. And 25 percent of women said they earned less than a man who was doing the same job, while just 5 percent of men said they have earned less than a woman doing the same job.

Employers who work hard to provide equal pay for men and women aren’t just adhering to the law. They also reap a variety of benefits for their companies. Benefits of equal pay include improving employee morale, retaining employees and attracting a higher-skilled pool of applicants. On the other hand, in workplaces that show signs of gender discrimination, issues like lost productivity, high employee turnover and damaged morale often arise.

So, as a woman in business, it is to your benefit to do as much research as you can before deciding to work for a company — both online and, perhaps, by speaking with current or former employees. And if you are an employer, it is your responsibility to do everything you can to provide a discrimination-free workplace.

Gender discrimination is something no one should have to endure. If you or someone you know has faced gender discrimination in the workplace, including unequal pay for equal work, it’s important to take action immediately. Report the discrimination to your employer’s human resources department in writing and keep a copy for your own records. If you feel you have been wronged, there may be an opportunity to take a stand and ensure that the powerful are held accountable. The law is behind you, and a good employment attorney can help.

Amanda A. Farahany

Amanda A. Farahany is a skilled Atlanta employment attorney and litigator who represents individual employees with claims related to sexual harassment, Family Medical Leave Act, discrimination, libel and overtime. She is managing partner at Barrett & Farahany, where she is dedicated to pursuing civil justice for employees, as well as providing consultation and support to management employees and executives. Amanda’s cases are regularly followed by the press. She seeks change for both individuals and society, has been recognized through numerous awards and achievements, and serves in many leadership roles. Additionally, Amanda is an adjunct professor of law at Emory Law School, teaching Advanced Trial Advocacy to third-year students. She can be reached at 404-238-7299 or https://www.justiceatwork.com/.
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