Celebrating Equal Pay Day

Submitted by rachel on

March 6, 2024, is Equal Pay Day in the U.S. This important day is currently part of Women’s History Month.

“Celebrating” the day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made regarding securing fair pay for women in the U.S. However, as the following overview explains, the fact that we have an Equal Pay Day at all serves as a reminder that we haven’t achieved all key goals yet.

What is Equal Pay Day?

The first Equal Pay Day was on April 11, 1996. The National Committee on Pay Equity chose this date because, at the time, it represented how far into the year a woman needed to work to earn what a man would have earned the previous year. In other words, to earn what a man earned in all of 1995, a woman would typically have to work about an extra four months.

The date moves according to the progress the country has made on this issue. The fact that we now recognize Equal Pay Day earlier in the year indicates the country has moved in the right direction. However, it also indicates there is still work to be done.

Equal Pay and Compensation Discrimination

The pay gap may be shrinking. Unfortunately, it still exists. On average, women working full-time in the U.S. still receive approximately 84 cents for every dollar men receive.

Paying women less than men for the same work is against federal law. The Equal Pay Act (EPA) requires employers to pay men and women equal pay for equal work.

Equal work doesn’t necessarily have to mean the same work duties. It simply means the nature of the work is reasonably similar. For example, maybe a man and a woman technically have different job titles at a company. However, perhaps the nature of their duties and the demands placed on them is essentially the same. Their pay should reflect this.

Do you believe an employer has paid you less than a man for similar work? You may file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if so.

For more information on the EEOC in your state, see our list of EEOC Office By State.

Other Forms of Discrimination 

The EPA isn’t the only federal law prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sex. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits employers from engaging in various forms of workplace discrimination on the basis of sex (and other characteristics, such as race). Examples of other forms of workplace discrimination you may have experienced include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Not being hired because you’re a woman
  • Being disciplined more harshly than men
  • Not being offered advancement or professional development opportunities available to male coworkers
  • Receiving unpleasant assignments or otherwise being made to feel you must seek employment elsewhere

Those are just a few examples. If you have grounds to file a complaint under the EPA, you may also have grounds to file a complaint under Title VII.

For more information on discrimination, check out our page on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Discrimination.

Speak With an Employment Law Attorney

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