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Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)

Protects men and women who perform substantially the same work in the same establishment from suffering wage discrimination based on gender.

Article by Sue Campbell,
(Back to Equal Employment Opportunity Regulations)

In 1942, following a surge in the number of American women who accepted jobs during World War II, the National War Labor Board urged employers to voluntarily pay male and female workers equal wages, “adjustments which equalize wage and salary rates paid to females with the rates paid to males for comparable quality and quantity of work on the same or similar operations.”

The suggestion was met by resistance (Equal Pay for Equal Work: The War Labor Board on Gender Inequality), and unfortunately, employers failed to make any changes, and most women were pushed out of employment by the War’s end in order to make room for returning veterans.

Job ads continued to discriminate between male and female workers, with newspapers publishing separate listings for men and women. Ads would openly state, “Help Wanted – Male,” or “Help Wanted – Female,” with differing pay scales addressed by gender, even for positions that were otherwise equal in quality and quantity of work. Higher paid positions were almost exclusively offered to men. In the 1950s and 1960s, women earned on average 59 to 64 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earned, while working within the same jobs, positions and companies.

On June 11, 1963, The Equal Pay Act was passed, prohibiting pay discrimination based strictly on an applicant or employee’s gender. See EEOC’s information on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA). (Article continues, following:)

Equal Pay Act of 1963


To prohibit discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. June 10, 1963 [S. 1409]

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as the "Equal Pay Act of 1963,". Equal Pay Act of 1963.


SEC. 2. (a) The Congress hereby finds that the existence in industries engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce of wage differentials based on sex--

(1) depresses wages and living standards for employees necessary for their health and efficiency;
(2) prevents the maximum utilization of the available labor resources;
(3) tends to cause labor disputes, thereby burdening, affecting, and obstructing commerce;
(4) burdens commerce and the free flow of goods in commerce; and
(5) constitutes an unfair method of competition.

(b) It is hereby declared to be the policy of this Act, through exercise by Congress of its power to regulate commerce among the several States and with foreign nations, to correct the conditions above referred to in such industries.

SEC. 3. Section 6 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended (29 U.S.C. et seq.), is amended by adding thereto a new subsection (d) as follows: Discrimination prohibited. 52 Stat. 1062; 63 Stat. 912.

(d)(1) No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section 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: Provided, That an employer who is paying a wage rate differential in violation of this subsection shall not, in order to comply with the provisions of this subsection, reduce the wage rate of any employee. 29 USC 206.

(2) No labor organization, or its agents, representing employees of an employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall cause or attempt to cause such an employer to discriminate against an employee in violation of paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(3) For purposes of administration and enforcement, any amounts owing to any employee which have been withheld in violation of this subsection shall be deemed to be unpaid minimum wages or unpaid overtime compensation under this Act.

(4) As used in this subsection, the term 'labor organization' means any organization of any kind, or any agency or employee representation committee or plan, in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work." "Labor organization."

SEC. 4. The amendments made by this Act shall take effect upon the expiration of one year from the date of its enactment: Provided, That in the case of employees covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement in effect at least thirty days prior to the date of enactment of this Act, entered into by a labor organization (as defined in section 6(d)(4) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended), the amendments made by this Act shall take effect upon the termination of such collective bargaining agreement or upon the expiration of two years from the date of enactment of this Act, whichever shall first occur. Effective date.

Approved June 10, 1963, 12:00 m.

This, too, was met with resistance, as can be seen by the prepared statement of the National Retail Merchant Association in 1963 (“Federal Legislation is not Needed – Debating the Equal Pay Act of 1963”).

According to the National Committee on Pay Equity: The Maryland Department of Labor's Report of the Equal Pay Commission (issued September 30, 2006) revealed "wage gaps based on both gender and race in the State, particularly in the private sector." The Commission was assisted by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, which conducted a study on wage disparities in Maryland. IWPR reported: "More than one-fifth of the difference in women's and men's earnings cannot be explained by differences in their education, potential work experience, job characteristics, or other measurable factors."

According to a New York Times article published on December 24, 2006: the “Gender Pay Gap, Once Narrowing, Is Stuck in Place.”

Women's earnings in 2005 (the most current data reported at the time of this article - 2007) were 77% of men's, leaving the wage gap statistically unchanged from the previous year, while wages declined for the third consecutive year for women and the second consecutive year for men. Based on the median earnings of fulltime, year-round workers, women's earnings were $31,858, a drop of 1.3%, and men's earnings were $41,386, a drop of 1.8%, according to revised 2004 data. Median earnings for women of color continue to be lower, in general, than earnings for men as a whole. In 2005, the earnings for African American women were $29,672, 71.7% of men's earnings, and for Latinas $24,214, 58.5% of men's, both slight gains, while Asian American women's earnings were $36,092, 87.2% of men's, a slight drop from the previous year.

Back to Equal Employment Opportunity Regulations in the U.S.

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