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Equal Pay Act turns 50 but still no equality for women workers

The Equal Pay Act has been the law of the land for more than five decades, but American workplaces have yet to achieve the promise made in the title of the law. Women in the United States still make only 77 cents for every dollar that men make, due in large part to systematic discrimination and covert biases that guide hiring and promotional decisions.

A number of senators have taken up this issue and are seeking to enact an update to the Equal Pay Act that will help remove some of the systemic barriers to equal pay. For example, it is currently a fire-able offense in many companies to discuss salaries and hourly pay, but having that knowledge and transparency will not only help companies to see their own pay scale in the light of day, but will also make it easier for women to understand their worth and ask for a raise when they deserve one.

Unfortunately, even this simple measure has been defeated from a lack of support among the lawmakers. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who is one of the cosponsors of the bill recently told reporters that the simple improvements they are seeking would not only help women, but give the economy a much-needed boost and help support a healthier middle class.

Under the current version of the Equal Pay Act is it very clearly illegal to pay someone less because of their gender, so one would think that employers would no longer engage in the practice. Sadly, as the recent statistics show, unequal pay is still quite common. 

Employees who are paid less becuase of their gender have a right to take action and seek equal pay. 

Source: CBS News, “Women still earn less 50 years after Equal Pay Act,” Shoshana Davis, June 10, 2013