Equal pay for women has been an issue for many years. In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was enacted to ensure that men and women who did the same job at the same place of business and had the same experience would receive the same amount of pay. If a discrepancy in pay was found, the lower paying employee, presumably the woman, would receive an increase in pay, rather than the man’s pay being reduced. The act allowed a woman to receive up to three years in back pay, or double that amount if it was discovered that she had been willfully discriminated against in her pay. The slogan for the act was “equal pay for equal work.”
People disagree on whether or not the Equal Pay Act has been affective in ensuring women receive equal pay. Those who feel it has not been affective are promoting a new bill called the Paycheck Fairness Act. This new act adds on to the Equal Pay Act in the following ways:
Clarifies what reasons are acceptable for pay differences between men and women;
allows wages to be compared within certain geographical areas to determine fairness;
makes retaliating against an employee for investigating wage differences prohibited;
increases amount and type of damages that can be requested to both compensate the employee and penalize the employer;
includes small businesses in the law rather than requiring an employer to have a larger number of employees for the law to apply;
provides funds for training EEOC staff regarding pay disputes and for educating women on how to negotiate a salary;
requires federal contractors to provide employment data regarding hiring and salaries to help the Labor Department enforce the Equal Pay Act.
Proponents of the bill say all of these factors would add up to women receiving equal pay in the workplace because it would facilitate investigating the wage gap, protect those who raise the question of unequal pay, impose stiffer penalties for pay discrimination by employers and provide training to those who need it.