An overview of equal pay laws

Per the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963, workers in Texas and other states are to be paid equally for equal work regardless of their gender. However, there is still a gender pay gap that sees women make an average of 82 cents for every $1 a man makes. This is partially because the EPA allows companies to pay employees on a different scale if it is based on seniority or merit.

A report released in 2010 by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee found that discrimination still plays a role in the lingering gender gap. The American Association of University Women also determined that discrimination was the cause for at least a portion of the gender wage gap. In an effort to make the EPA stronger, lawmakers have proposed the Paycheck Fairness Act. If it is passed, it will prevent workers from being retaliated against prior to filing a lawsuit.

Companies could no longer ban workers from talking about their salaries or ask for salary history during a job interview. Companies would be required to disclose salary information to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Opponents of the bill say that it could lead to fewer women being hired because companies would be worried about a lawsuit. They also claim that it isn't needed because there is already a ban on gender discrimination.

Ideally, companies will strive to pay male and female workers equally. However, those who have evidence of possible wage discrimination, such as a colleague's pay stubs or pay records for the entire company may want to take legal action. An attorney might work with an employer to ensure compensation and equal pay without the need to go to court. Alternatively, that attorney may file a discrimination charge with the EEOC or a lawsuit.

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