More Evidence That the Gender Pay Gap Is a Big Problem
New study shows that 20% of HR managers claim women are paid less for the same work
Most people have heard the numbers stating that working women only make an average of $.79 for every dollar working men make.
However, many people will also give some credence to the fact that the pay gap statistic, reported by the Department of Labor, is not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison of male and female employees who are doing the same work. That is, it takes into account the entire workforce, across all industries and job titles.
However, a new survey may give a more accurate glimpse into the reality of the pay gap.
The Wall Street Journal just reported on a survey by CareerBuilder that revealed some surprising information. According to CareerBuilder’s research, 20% of human resources managers admit that female employees are paid less than male employees who do comparable work.
The fact that this information comes from human resources managers is significant. After all, they are in position to know actual salary information, unlike regular employees who may suspect unfair pay but are unable to confirm their suspicions. The CareerBuilder survey also showed that only 35% of women feel confident that they are being compensated on par with their male counterparts.
So the question is this: What can female employees do if they believe they may be receiving less compensation because of their gender?
Legal Protection from Unfair Pay
It’s important to know that there are legal remedies at both the federal and state level pertaining to pay discrimination
At the federal level, the Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. While the jobs need not be identical, they must be substantially equal when evaluated by job content (rather than by job titles).
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act also makes it illegal to discriminate based on sex in matters of pay and benefits.
At the state level, there is the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Pennsylvania Equal Pay Law. Both offer employees protection from discrimination in pay based on gender.
What You Should Do If You Suspect Pay Discrimination
If you believe that you’ve been a victim of pay discrimination, it may be difficult to obtain proof to back up your suspicions.
However, there are some things you can do to investigate your hunch:
- Reach out to former employees who may be willing to discuss compensation.
- Know that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which covers most non-government entities, offers protection for non-supervisors who want to discuss working conditions, including pay. That means you may have a legal right to discuss compensation with current coworkers as well.
- If your employer has to file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, you should be able to look up those documents as part of a public record. Salary information is often included in these filings.
- Look up lawsuits your company may have been involved in.
With or without concrete proof, the most important thing to remember is that you need to act quickly. If you want to file a lawsuit, you may have to comply with statutes of limitations related to various laws. You don’t want your window of opportunity to close while you’re trying to decide whether or not to move forward.
Plus, in some cases, you may be required to file complaints with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission before proceeding with other legal action.
Your best bet is to seek the advice of an experienced employment law attorney, rather than trying to navigate the complaint system without an advocate. That way, you can be sure that you’re taking the appropriate steps at the right time.
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