Origin and Effectivity of the Equal Pay Act: An Overview Essay

With aims of understanding the Equal Pay Act, this paper shall be devoted to establishing its legal and historical background. Assertion on its status quo shall also be provided through the utilization of wage gap and examination of varying viewpoints regarding the issue at hand. Legal Perspective. With the intent of abolishing discrimination and wage differentials on the basis of sex, the US Congress passed the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 which provides that:

No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section [section 206 of title 29 of the United States Code] shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs[,] the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex [ . . . . ] The Act basically suggests that all employees in an establishment, whether man or woman, must equally be compensated when job content is substantially equal.

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The law stresses that skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions are to be used as determinants in assessing the intrinsic equality in value of work rather than job titles. Difference in compensation shall only be permitted when “affirmative defenses” such as seniority; merit; quantity and quality of work output or any factor except gender were utilized by the employer (EEOC Archives, 2007). Historical Background. Borgna Brunner claims that in early 1960’s, women were pushed out of work to accommodate returning war veterans and, job listings in the newspapers were “strictly categorized according to sex” with higher level salary jobs were almost exclusively for men. She further tells that employers usually “run advertisements for identical jobs under different male and female job listings. To translate that this difference in job title implies difference in salary or compensation is very plausible.

To address this, the Congress passed the Equal Pay Act in 1964 which prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of sex and race. According to the West Encyclopedia of Law, the word sex was a last minute amendment by Rep. Howard Smith, claiming that it was to solidify his support for the National Women’s Party, of which he was closely associated to. The bill also paved to the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which now serves as an independent implementing and regulatory board that investigates, conciliates, litigates and forms various voluntary assistance programs (EEOC). Wage Gap.

Although it is undeniable that the workplace terrain for women had improved significantly today, the necessity of utilizing scientific tools is only imperative. Quoting Brunner, Wage Gap is a statistical indicator, expressed in percentage, which serves as an” index for women’s earning relative to men’s. ” From the data garnered by the U. S. Women’s Bureau and the National Committee on Pay Equity, it is observable that the gap between the salary of men and women fell from 42 cents for every dollar in 1963 to 24 cents in 2005. This could be translated as 58% of women’s earnings in comparable with men’s in 1963 to 77% in 2005. A similar study was conducted by the US Census, Current Population Survey in 2004, which compared the Median Annual Earning Transcending Race and Sex.

The result of the study verified that there was a narrowing of wage gap, with white women earning $32,683 or 77% in contrast with $42,601 or 100% of that of white men. Viewpoints. After resolving that the EPA had indeed improved the standing of women in terms of salary today in comparison with that of the past, the debate had now been focused on whether or not the efforts of the US government in aims of actualizing its promise of fair compensation is really on its way to fulfillment. After four decades of the passage of the Equal Pay Act, Brunner along with Deborah Walker (1984), doubts this possibility because of constant discrimination against women. Katha Pollitt, more strongly asserted that:

Young men and women have always had earnings more compatible than those of their elders: starting salaries are generally low, and do not accurately reflect the advantages that accrue, or fail to accrue, over time as men advance and women stay in place, or as women in mostly female kinds of jobs reach the end of characteristically short career paths. (The Nation, April 14, 1997) On the other side of camp are Patricia Hausmine (2001), Anita Hattiangadi, Diana Furchtgott- Roth (2000), who were all convinced that the reason for the disparity between the salary of men and women is not discrimination but the skill, educational attainment and hours devoted to work. Conclusion The Equal Pay Act had changed the lives of female workers from the 1964 up to the present by improving their salary and protecting them from discrimination. However, the fact still remains that after four decades of the passing of EPA, women of today still earn less than their male counterparts.

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