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The Gender Pay Gap: Do We Need More Laws or More Enforcement?


Women deserve equal pay for equal work. There are laws on the books dating back to 1963 that are designed to protect women from being paid less than men for doing the same work. However, we continue to see complaints, such as the one against the owners of Kay Jewelers and Jared, from allegedly underpaid female employees. Is the answer more laws, or more enforcement?

(Photo Credit:  Senate Democrats/Flickr)

Employment and labor lawyer Gerald D. Skoning writes in The Palm Beach Post that the plethora of discussions about a “need” for more laws against gender discrimination and pay equity are missing the point. There are plenty of laws on the books designed to protect women from being paid less than men. The problem is that they aren’t enforced.

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The Law Today

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 protects women with the same skills or qualifications from being paid less than men for the same work. The EPA was rolled into the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) originally of 1938, but amended to include the EPA. The EPA is administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC.)

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits gender-based wage discrimination.

It would appear that these federal laws have teeth, which only begs the question: why are so many women paid less than their male counterparts?


One possibility is that they don’t always know for a fact they are getting paid less. CNBC reports President Obama will sign an executive order to prevent federal contractors from “retaliating” against workers who discuss their compensation. This will only help transparency.

In 2009, the President signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which extended time periods for employees to file claims for wages lost as a result of discrimination.

Knowledge is power.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think we need more laws, or just more efficient enforcment? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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