The History of the Equal Pay Act and Its Impact on Women
Women have been facing pay discrimination for decades – and unfortunately, continue to do so today. In fact, women earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, even though they make up almost 50 percent of today’s workforce. [i]
When President Kennedy enacted the Equal Pay Act (EPA) in 1963, visit here http://www.eeoc.gov/, women were actually earning even less – or 59 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the National Equal Enforcement Task Force(PDF). The EPA was enacted for this very reason; so that men and women are given equal pay for equal work. The following year, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 further strengthened laws against discrimination by making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex for pay benefits, as well as race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability.
Pay disparities as they relate to women is a much discussed and reviewed topic in the past century. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity (visit here http://www.pay–equity.org/info–history.html) , in 1942, because of the large number of women taking jobs during World War II, the War Labor Board urged that employers make adjustments to salary rates so that females were paid equally to men. Although pay equality was addressed, it was never enacted by employers at the time.
Following this, in the 1950s several bills were introduced by members of Congress to no avail. Enter 1963, and the Equal Pay Bill was introduced, followed closely thereafter by the Civil Rights Bill.
And decades still after the passage of the EPA, pay disparities between men and women continue to spawn the enactment of additional laws. Most recently, in 2009, President Obama signed into law theLilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to further equal pay for women. And in 2010 the National Equal Enforcement Task Force (PDF) was created, bringing together various government agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), the Department of Justice ("DOJ"), the Department of Labor ("DOL") including the Office of Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the Office of Personnel Management ("OPM"). The mission of which is to further combat violations of equal pay laws.
In 2013 and beyond, it will be interesting to see if, when, and how, pay rates for women improve. Considering women’s make–up in the workforce, contribution to family finances, and in some case the sole bread winner, gender should not be a determining factor as it relates to pay.
- [I] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 2. Median usual weekly earnings of full–time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, quarterly averages (PDF)
- [II] National Committee on Pay Equity