Today is Equal Pay Day, a day of awareness about sex-based pay discrimination in the workplace. April 8th is chosen because it marks the number of extra days the average woman would have to work into a new year to earn as much as her male counterparts did the previous year. Because women earn, on average, only 77% of men in comparable jobs, it takes a few extra months.
Since today is Equal Pay Day, it’s a good time to consider sex discrimination and the Equal Pay Act in Ohio workplaces when it comes to wages.
Passed in 1963, the Equal Pay Act generally requires that employers pay men and women the same when for performing the same job. The jobs do not have to be exactly the same for the law to apply. They only need to be substantially equal. To make this determination, courts consider the skill, effort, responsibilities, and working conditions of the jobs to be compared. If they are similar enough, then employers may not pay one sex less than the other to do the jobs.
This is not to say an Ohio employer automatically violates the Equal Pay Act if a man and women are not paid the same. Employers can pay male and female employees differently for the same job, as long as the reason for the pay disparity is something other than sex. Differences in pay based on seniority, experience, quantity or quality of work, or anything else that is not the sex of the employees do not violate the Equal Pay Act.
When JFK signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, women earned 59% of their male counterparts. More than fifty years later, a pay gap remains. While the national gap is due to a variety of factors, the truth is that in some cases, women are paid less simply because they are women. That is sex discrimination, and it is against both Ohio and federal law.
If you are a Cleveland-area employee and feel you may be the victim of pay discrimination based on sex, take the opportunity on Equal Pay Day to do something about it.