Equal Pay For Equal Work In The Us- The Law And Penalties

Equal Pay For Equal Work In The Us- The Law And Penalties
Equal Pay For Equal Work In The Us- The Law And Penalties

Equal Pay for Equal Work is a term that describes the discriminations on a sexual basis, where women are paid less for the same job they do with the male counterpart. Over the years, numerous women groups have launched protest over the gender pay gap that has bedeviled women workers in the USA. In America today, most employers have often considered the equal work equal pay factor in their employment contracts. Equal pay includes full range of benefits, non-salary payment, basic pay, bonus, medical benefits and paid leaves which the organization provides for her employees.

In 1963, the American government under John F Kennedy accented to the Equal Pay Act. The aim of this Act was to provide modalities for the elimination of the pay gap which is based on gender.

This Act has so far criminalized the conduct of employers to pay different wages to persons on the same job and the same position because of their gender. In most cases, when people are to be compensated, women receive much less than compensation than their male counterpart.


The term Equal Pay for Equal Work is a concept of the rights of individuals in the workplace that enables them to receive equal benefits for the same task and same position they occupy in the job. In the USA, this Act was signed into law in 1963 to prevent the pay gap existing against the female folk.


Reports have shown that female workers in full-time jobs earn wages that are about 20% less than males. There are some factors which when considered seems to disprove the pay gap. These factors include:
  1. Male workers on full time work an average 6% more in workdays in a year and an average 5% more in work hours for a day than female counterparts.
  2. Males have more work experience than women and have the tendency to delve into more technical areas of a career which would attract better pay.
  3. The construction sector demands more of the physical workers which are mostly men that are stronger and more muscular than women.
  4. Women tend to prefer jobs with more fringe benefits than cash rewards.



Equal Pay for Equal Work Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value
Workers earnings in the same or similar jobs are compared by equal pay The earnings of workers on the different jobs such as a nurse and electrician are compared
Both men and women can protest if their payment does not match with the job. This allows a male worker who is paid less than a female worker on the same job to file a complaint. Persons on jobs that are traditionally reserved for women can file complaints on account that their jobs are undervalued. If a nurse is paid less than an electrician by the same employer, then a complaint can be filed.





Section 206(6) of this Act provides conditions against gender discrimination on wages in the workplace. This include:

  1. Employers shall not discriminate between employees based on sex by paying a lower wage to an employee than that which is paid to an employee of the opposite sex for an equal job, position, skill, responsibility and for jobs which are performed under the same conditions.
  2. No employer shall cause any of its representatives or agents to violate the contents of this section by discriminating against an employee’s wage based on gender.
  3. Any amount that has been withheld from an employee based on discrimination by gender shall be deemed as an unpaid wage or unpaid compensation.
  4. The term organization as used in this section refers to any employee, agency, organization or committee where employees participate and there are avenues for dealing with the employers on issues bothering on wages, labor disputes, hours of employment or conditions of work.



  1. The Congress have discovered that the existence of wage differentials based on sex in industries –
  2. Depresses the living standard of employees which are necessary for their productivity.
  3. Prevents the best utilization of the labor resources available.
  4. Limits the free flow of goods in commerce
  5. Is an unfair method for competition
  6. This Act shall, therefore, correct the conditions stated above which are observed by such industries.


The following are the penalties for the violation of any provision of this Act.

  1. Any person who willfully violates the provisions of shall pay a fine of $10000 or six months imprisonment or both. Imprisonment shall only be served after the second conviction for violation of this Act.
  2. The employer shall repay the complete wages that are due to the employee and where necessary, the employee shall be offered the applicable promotion.
  3. The secretary shall supervise the payment of any unpaid over-time by the employee to the employer and may approach a court of competent jurisdiction for action to recover the unpaid wages.
  4. Any person who willfully violates any provisions of this Act shall be subject to a civil penalty not exceeding $1100.


The Districts courts in the US, Virgin Islands and the District Court of Guam shall have jurisdiction over cases of violations the sections of the Act.


No provision of this chapter shall excuse noncompliance with the government’s established laws on minimum wage and no part of this Act shall justify any act any noncompliance with any government’s laws relating to child labor. No provision of this chapter shall justify any action of an employer based on the reduction of an employee’s wage he paid in excess in accordance with the minimum wage outlined in this chapter or justify any action in the increase in working hours of an employee which is against the provisions of this chapter.


Criticism of equal pay for equal work in the US is largely against the methods adopted by the various groups in measuring the pay gap. It is believed that the attempt by the government to bridge the pay gap tends to interfere with voluntary exchange. The argument is that the employer owns the job and not the government or the worker. Therefore, the employer is the one who negotiates on the job and will pay based on the performance characteristics of the employee.

A private enterprise will want to continue in business and will pay their best performers more than the less performers to motivate them to perform better.

The wage gap has continued to merge gradually because of experience, education and the years spent in the job.


The aim of the equal pay Act is to ensure that women and men in the workplace are given the same wages for the same work that is done. The job may not be the same but can be similar in most aspects. This law covers all aspects of salary, bonuses, salary, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, and other benefits. If there exists any form of inequality in wages between men and women, the employer is not obliged to reduce their wages to offer them an equal pay.

An individual that alleges any violation of this rule can approach the court for settlement and is not required to file any pre-EEOC charge. The time for filing of the case must be two years within which the alleged offense is committed and must be three years in case of a willful violation of the provisions of this Act.



  1. The low level of demands by American Laws – this is because the people making the laws are largely men and women have low representatives in terms of leadership positions in large corporations and in the political arena.
  2. Employed women are less likely to come up to say that they have earned less than their male counterparts on the same job and position.
  3. Unconscious bias – this takes place during the interview where the salary of the person may be determined based on the amount that she received in her former employment and not on skill, experience or performance on the job.
  4. The tendency for past inequality to produce future inequality – most employers believe that women can never perform a certain task in the workplace and so cannot be paid the same amount that is paid to their male counterpart who will show a better performance on the same job. Also, other organizations tend to have a fixed rate of wages for women and new workplaces will be paying the new female employees based on the already established market rate for the job.
  5. Most state laws in the US prohibits women from working at nights.
  6. Some laws have placed a limit on the number of hours a woman can spend on the job and the size of weight a woman could lift.
  7. Historically, a woman’s income was not considered vital for the survival of the homes and thus is the tendency for them to be underpaid by their employers.
  8. Because of family obligations, women have a higher turnover rate compared to the male counterpart on the same job.


  1. There are loopholes in the Act which has- greatly limited the extent of its application and acceptability. These loopholes have been exploited by the employers and have largely reduced the effectiveness of the Act.
  2. The Act allows men to pay higher than the females because of productivity, seniority or merit and other factors other than gender.
  3. The vague language that is common with the Act makes it difficult for women to speak up on cases that they have been underpaid because of their sex and many are prevented from approaching the court.
  4. Women who are likely to be the plaintiff is vested with the burden of proof that they have been underpaid with the same job that is performed by the male counterpart. In many instances, proving that the work task is equal to the one she performs could be difficult.


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