Today, women occupy positions in the professional world considered solely for men in the past, showing the advance of progress. However, the gender pay gap persists, the consequences of which follow women even into retirement.
Failing to pay two people performing substantially equal work the same pay because of gender is discrimination and violates the Equal Pay Act. However, there are ways employers can do so without breaking the law.
Why the wage gap exists
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, full-time working women only earn about 83.7% of what men earn annually. Reasons commonly cited for the wage gap’s existence include women needing more time off for parenting and employees treating women differently than men. Gender stereotyping plays a big role, with many employers believing women will show less dedication as they become mothers.
When the wage gap exists in a single workplace
Social mores often prevent people from discussing their salaries with their coworkers. However, outside of certain unions or contracts, workers can legally share how much they make. Because they often do not, women may not realize that their male coworkers performing the same duties earn more until a while into their employment. While this is technically against the law, employers may claim that the reason for this is the male worker having more experience, performing better or producing more work. These reasons do not violate the law.
The gender wage gap is a real and serious issue in the workplace. It is not just a statistic. The Equal Pay Act bans discrimination-based unequal pay, but this does not apply if employers do so under a system that is merit-based or performance-based. However, if they can show that the inequity is solely because of gender, female workers who receive a lower salary than their male counterparts who perform the same work may be able to file a claim against their employers for discrimination.