Today is Equal Pay Act day.

President Obama proclaimed April 12, 2011, as National Equal Pay Day. He called “upon all Americans to recognize the full value of women’s skills and their significant contributions to the labor force, acknowledge the injustice of wage discrimination, and join efforts to achieve equal pay.”

On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed into law The Equal Pay Act.  This Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The EPA was enacted to “prohibit discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers.”  The Act protects both men and women.  It also protects administrative, professional and executive employees who are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

However, there are still disparities in wages.  According to the Presidential proclamation “when the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, women earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. Though women today are more likely than men to attend and graduate from college, women still earn an average of only about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.”

On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which overturned the holding of a Supreme Court case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear, regarding the applicable statute of limitations. This bill, which provides that each gender-unequal paycheck is a new violation of the law, was the first signing of the Obama Presidency and came almost forty-five years after the Equal Pay Act.

In Ledbetter, the Court held that employers could not be sued for pay discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if the employer’s original discriminatory pay decision occurred more than 180 days before the employee initiated her claim.  The Court concluded that the paychecks Ledbetter continued to receive from her employer were mere “effects” of her employer’s earlier discriminatory decisions, and so did not “reset” the 180-day filing period.  See our prior posting:

Are you getting equal pay?  What policies are in place at your place of employment to assure equal pay?