The advantages and disadvantages of Equal Pay Act depend on how you look at the changes made by the act. People in different positions are affected differently, so you need to consider perspective when weighing the pros and cons of the act.

What Does the Equal Pay Act Do?

The Equal Pay Act works to keep wage and salary decisions from being based on the gender of the employee. When the act was passed, women, who mostly worked as secretaries and typists at the time, on average earned less than two-thirds the wage of men. So, for every dollar a man earned, a woman would only earn about 62 cents. Women made up one-third of the workforce back then, but weren't paid equally.

President Kennedy passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, hoping to give the same rights to men and women and allow for fair competition in the workplace. If a male and female applied for a got the same job with the same credentials and requirements, they should be paid the same.

The Equal Pay Act did help to close the gap between the average salaries of men and women, but a gap does still exist. Many employers are being held to a fair standard, thanks to the act.

How to Make an Equal Pay Act Claim

In order to make a claim regarding the Equal Pay Act, the employee has to prove a minimum of these three things:

  • Unequal pay amount when compared to the opposite gender
  • Equal work expectations and delivery
  • Equal conditions for the equal work conducted

Once taken to court, the case will be analyzed and the court will decide whether the work was, in fact, equal based on actual performance rather than simply a job description. The Equal Pay Act (EPA) requires that the skill level, responsibility, and effort of each worker, male and female, be equal. It also requires that the conditions match. For instance, two people may do the same job, but one in a dangerous, hot factory, and the other in an air-conditioned, open space. These two jobs would not be considered equal in the eyes of the EPA.

All of this said, the work doesn't necessarily have to be identical in order to file a successful EPA claim. In many cases, courts have ruled in favor of a plaintiff because they were able to show that the jobs were the same at first impression, but not completely identical. This helps prevent guilty employers from getting around the EPA law just because the work had some slight differences. If the two jobs are substantially similar, the genders should receive equal pay.

What Are an Employer's Defenses Under the Equal Pay Act?

When working under the EPA, employers have four essential defenses:

  • Seniority
  • Merit
  • Production quality or quantity
  • Certain differences between the employees other than their gender

If an employee can prove that the work is equal at face value, or prima facie, then the burden of proof turns to the employer. They can assert one of the above differences, but their claim will also be investigated. Basically, the employer needs to be able to prove that they had legitimate grounds for varying the wages or salaries for two employees of different genders. It is okay for a man and woman to make different salaries at the same job, but there must be a good reason, like experience or otherwise.

What Is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, called the EEOC for short, gives guidance for individuals and employers involved in claims under the following acts:

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Americans With Disabilities Act 1990
  • Age Discrimination Act of 1967
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963

The goal of this organization is to support those who have been discriminated against and encourage employers to pay their employees fair wages regardless of their outward differences. If filing a claim under one of the above acts, you don't have to bring it to the EEOC. You can simply file a petition with the appropriate court.

Claims must be brought up to two years after the time of the discriminatory event. This is the statute of limitation for such acts.

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