The Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects against wage discrimination on the basis of sex. According to the act, employers cannot pay different wages to men and women whose jobs require the same skill levels and those who work under similar conditions, and the same effort and responsibility are required for the job. The act was brought in to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
In this article, you will learn some general details about the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the benefits that it has for women. Furthermore, we will also look at some of the major criticisms against the act and what are the major ways forward to make the act more helpful to the public. Hence, to learn more about the act, read on through to the end of the article.
What Does The Equal Pay Act of 1963 Say?
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a law in the United States according to which an employer cannot pay different wages to men and women for the same job, which requires the same level of skill, effort, and responsibility, while both have to work under similar conditions.
According to the United States Department of Labor,
“If there is an inequality in wages between people of different sexes who perform substantially equal jobs, employers must raise wages to equalize pay but may not reduce the wages of other individuals.”
Hence, this factor helps in establishing equal pay for equal work, despite factors like race, religion, gender, and ethnicity.
This act is a part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as this act got amended with the introduction of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The act is one of the biggest milestones taken by US lawmakers to ensure gender equality in the country. However, as per many sources, gender inequality in terms of wages and salaries still persists in American Society.
What Are The Major Provisions Of The Equal Pay Act of 1963?
As already discussed, the Equal Pay Act is based on the principle of Equal Pay for Equal Work, and the act applies to compensation of all forms. The equal pay provision applies to all factors, including wages, salary, bonuses, overtime, benefits, vacation, holiday pay, profit-sharing plan, and the rest of the associated things like expense reimbursements, vehicle allowances, and more.
Before the act was passed, the US Department of Labor conducted studies across various industries and found that in some industries, men were earning more than women for the same job.
According to Investopedia.com,
“The act states that gender-based pay discrepancies depress employees’ pay and living standards, keep labor resources from being maximized, cause labor disputes that disrupt business, burden commerce and the free flow of goods, and are a form of unfair competition. The law went into effect for most employers one year later.”
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 came into effect after the recommendations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As per the law, the US Department of Labor can enter and inspect businesses and their records related to payments of employees to check whether the employer has in any way violated the rights of the employees.
Furthermore, the Labor Department can also investigate, gather data, and even speak with employees for the same, to check whether the organization is complying with the act or not. In addition to that, the federal government also has the power to ask state governments and local agencies to provide assistance in such efforts and reimburse for such services.
Benefits Of The Equal Pay Act
One of the biggest benefits of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 is that when a particular employer violates the law, employees can file a lawsuit against the company. Thence, the employee can get back pay adjustments, reimbursement of legal fees, and more. There are many cases where employees have won Pay discrimination lawsuits on the basis of the Equal Pay Act. This illustrates the fact that the act has helped workers throughout the United States.
There are various ways to fight back if an employee is discriminated against on the basis of equal pay. According to Investopedia,
“Employees who think they have been paid less because of their gender may file a claim under the Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, or both. Employees may also be covered by state laws that may be stronger than federal ones.”
However, you must note here that employees have two years to file lawsuits against employers who violate the Equal Pay Act. The statute limitation is of three years if the employer willfully violates the act of discrimination against an employee.
What Are The Major Criticisms For The Equal Pay Act of 1963?
The following are some of the major criticisms of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which show the limitation of the act:
- Gender discrimination is difficult to prove for employees, especially when it comes to equal pay.
- The penalty of back pay, offering higher wages, and legal reimbursements are not enough for employees.
- Even some court decisions seem to undermine the law.
- The definition of ‘establishment’ in the law is very narrow, especially when an employer might have many business places.
- The Equal Pay Act only applies to men and women. Hence, people who identify as non-binary, Transgender, or Agender will not get the protection as per the law.
Despite various criticism, benefits, and shortcomings of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, it cannot be denied that the act was a big milestone in the history of gender equality in the United States. As per the law, employers must offer men and women with same pay and benefits when they do equal jobs.
However, if an employer doesn’t offer the same pay for the same job, the employee can file a lawsuit and have the potential to receive back pay, pay adjustment, or reimbursement of legal fees. What are your recommendations for making the Equal Pay Act more effective? Share your views in the comments section below.
A passionate writer and an avid reader, Soumava is academically inclined and loves writing on topics requiring deep research. Having 3+ years of experience, Soumava also loves writing blogs in other domains, including digital marketing, business, technology, travel, and sports.