The “me too” and “time’s up” movements focus primarily on sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. But the movements have also raised awareness of a problem that has persisted throughout U.S. history: gender pay disparity.
The gender pay gap is the gap between what men and women are paid. It refers to the average annual pay of all women compared to the pay men, when variables are taken into account (like equal jobs, amount of time worked, etc). Currently, the gender pay gap across the U.S. is 80%. That means that for every hour worked, a woman will be paid 80% of what a man is paid for the same work. In Minnesota, the pay gap is 82%.
This pay gap violates the law, yet it persists. By highlighting these laws and aggressively enforcing them in the courts, proponents of fair pay and women’s continue to work toward eliminating sex discrimination in employment.
The federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) requires that employers pay the same amount of compensation to every worker, regardless of gender or sex. That is, women and men should be paid the same amount for the work that they perform.
The EPA was signed into law in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. In passing the EPA, Congress stated its intent to eliminate sex discrimination because the gender pay gap:
- depresses wages and living standards for employees necessary for their health and efficiency;
- prevents the maximum utilization of the available labor resources;
- tends to cause labor disputes, thereby burdening, affecting, and obstructing commerce;
- burdens commerce and the free flow of goods in commerce; and
- constitutes an unfair method of competition.
Minnesota has a similar law with similar protections. Under Minnesota’s “Equal Pay for Equal Work Law,” employers cannot pay workers of one sex less than employees of another sex. Minn. Stat. § 181.67. Similar to the EPA, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Law prohibits differential pay when employees of different genders are performing work that requires equal amounts of skill, effort, and responsibility, and done under similar working conditions.
Most employees across the country are protected by the EPA, though there are important exceptions. In Minnesota, most employees are also protected by the Equal Pay for Equal Work Law.
If you have questions about pay disparity or discrimination, contact the experienced employment lawyers at Teske, Katz, Kitzer & Rochel today to discuss further.