It’s the year 2020 and women still only earn $0.82 on average per $1.00 that their male counterparts earn for the exact same work. For nearly a century, women in the United States have been working towards equal pay, equal voting rights, and equal legal rights in general. In 1996, the National Committee on Pay Equity started Equal Pay Day to bring public awareness to the still-existing wage gap between working women and men. This marks how far into the year the average woman must work to earn what the average man earned in the previous year.
This year, Equal Pay Day falls on March 31, 2020. Essentially, the average working woman must work an extra three months this year to earn the same as the average working man did in the year 2019.
Based on 2019 U.S. Census data for full-time, year-round workers, $0.82 is the figure that represents the average of what all women in the U.S. are making in comparison to their male counterparts. Moreover, the wage gap only increases when broken down by other demographics.
The following figures show equal pay by demographic for this year (per their male counterpart’s $1.00):
- Women in Michigan: $0.78
- Moms: $0.70
- Black American women: $0.62
- Native American women, $0.57
- Latina Women: $0.54
What Are the Laws Regulating Equal Pay?
On the federal level, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal to explicitly pay men more than women who are working in the same place and doing similar work, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for enforcing federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination. In Michigan, the Fair Employment Practices Act was amended in 1966 to ban sex discrimination in the workplace. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is tasked with investigating complaints to determine whether unlawful discrimination has occurred.
If you feel you have been discriminated against, you can file a claim with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Further, alleging discriminatory treatment by an employer is protected activity under the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. If you have filed a claim alleging discrimination and your employer has retaliated against you, you may be entitled to legal or equitable relief.
Why Does the Pay Gap Persist?
The question still remains: with all of these laws prohibiting sex discrimination in the workplace, why is there still such a pay discrepancy between women and men? Truthfully, there are many reasons. For example, while women in general now have more opportunities to become educated, getting that first job and negotiating a fair salary is still difficult. Moreover, studies show that employers disproportionately give administrative duties to female workers, which takes time away from actual, substantive work. In turn, these women have to either work more hours to catch up or fall behind their male counterparts. Whatever the justification on the surface, the sad, simple reality is that, for some, prejudice still exists.
In celebration of Women’s History Month and Equal Pay Day this year, our employment law attorneys at Grewal Law PLLC are encouraging employers to review their pay policies and hiring practices in detail. We are here to help protect employees’ rights and to assist employers in promoting equality.
If you believe you have been unlawfully discriminated against in your workplace, call Grewal Law PLLC at (888) 211-5798 or contact us online for a free consultation.