How Can We Combat Pay Discrimination?

Will we ever win the war on pay discrimination?

Even though the Equal Pay Act was enacted nearly 50 years ago, U.S. workers still have to fight to get what that law supposedly guarantees. According to the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, American women still face a gender-based pay gap (women earned 77 cents for ever dollar earned by men in 2010), and race and ethnicity-based pay gaps put male and female workers of color at a disadvantage.

Workers find it even harder to fight pay discrimination in our down economy. An employee is less likely to stand up for his/her rights to equal pay, or to speak out against unfair employment practices, when job alternatives are scarce.

On August 10, 2011, the Department of Labor announced that it is considering the development of a data tool to help it address potential cases of pay discrimination-an unfair and illegal labor practice. That tool would assist in the collection of  information on salaries, wages and other benefits paid to employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. Under Executive Order 11246, companies that do business with the federal government are prohibited from engaging in discriminatoty employment practices on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion or sex. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs uses investigators to look into potential cases of employment discrimination and would use the data tool to provide its investigators with insight into potential pay discrimination that warrants further review. The Labor Department has invited comment on the development of its pay discrimination data tool. While the tool will only serve to help root out pay discrimination in companies that do business with the federal government, it could be a positive step toward helping to expose the problem.

Have you been the subject of pay discrimination? If so, please tell us your story.

You can read our earlier post about the Equal Pay Act here.

Abbey Spanier, LLP, located in New York City, is a well-recognized national class action and complex litigation law firm.