Little Bits of History

Equal Pay

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 10, 2014
Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 being signed into law by President John F. Kennedy.

Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 being signed into law by President John F. Kennedy.

June 10, 1963: The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 is signed into law by President John F. Kennedy. The newer law was amending the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The EPA provided that no employer could discriminate between employees on the basis of sex and pay unequal wages for equal work. Included in the text of the Act was the reasons why discriminatory wages were inherently bad and what issues were being attended to by this law. Unfair wages depress living standards for the employees affected, prevents the maximum utilization of the workforce, tends to cause labor disputes and obstructs commerce, burdens commerce and the free flow of goods, and finally is an unfair method of competition.

Section 206 (d)(1) of the EPA prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex by paying wages to employees at a lesser rate than the opposite sex receives. Equal work and jobs requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility performed under similar working conditions demand equal remuneration. To successfully bring a case the employee must show that disparate wages are paid to the opposite sex, the employees involved perform essentially the same job, and they have done these jobs under similar working conditions. If these three conditions are met, a prima facie case is established and the employers must then defend with one of four possible options. A seniority system, merit system, earnings measured by quantity or quality of production, or any other reason other than sex for the pay difference.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that women’s salaries vis-à-vis men’s have risen sharply since the implementation of the law. By 1979 women were earning 62% of men’s earning while that number rose to 80% by 2004. The gender pay gap remains firmly in place not only in the US, but around the world. It is difficult to study because women exhibit very different characteristics for many of the factors that affect pay. Men tend to choose fields where higher wages are already paid and they tend to work more hours per week than their counterparts. Because of these, it is difficult to assess what is causing the pay difference, discrimination or different work habits.

The raw difference in wages in the US is 20.4% but as much as 65.1 to 76.4% of that difference can be attributed to different work styles or career choices. If adjusted for these factors, the pay difference is between 4.8 and 7.1 %. Many studies have agreed on these figures but they tend to disagree with the remaining 5-7% causation – some lay the blame on discrimination while other factors are found in other studies such as social pressures against women seeking employment in high paying fields while men are encouraged to prioritize job satisfaction over many other life choices. This has lifelong implications as not only pay at the time of employment is less for women, but it means their pensions and Social Security payments are less in retirement.

It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages. – Henry Ford

Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages. – H. L. Mencken

Men who do things without being told draw the most wages. – Rodney Dangerfield

Salaries and wages must reflect the reality of the enterprise’s economic performance; deviations from the planned performance should be reflected in pay. – Samora Machel

Also on this day: Friends of Bill – In 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous is formed.
US Naval Academy – In 1854, the first class graduated from USNA.
Oxford v. Cambridge – In 1829, the first Boat Race between the two schools took place.
Teenager Sees Reds – In 1944, Joe Nuxhall went pro.


One Response

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  1. ucfhistory said, on June 10, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Great quotes! Thanks for the post, wages continues to be an important topic for discussion.

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