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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.
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:)
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.
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