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Gender-based pay gap may not disappear for 44 years

Women in Denver may have noticed that the federal Equal Pay Act recently had its 50th anniversary. The law was enacted to address the huge difference in pay female employees received for doing the same jobs as their male colleagues. While progress has been made in addressing this form of employment discrimination, employers on average still pay female employees less than men. The U.S. Equal Employment Commission predicts that it could be decades before this discrimination finally ends.

According to the EEOC, women earned about 77 percent the wages of men in 2012. Women of color had to deal with an even greater disparity. The way things are going, the EEOC believes that men and women will not be paid equally for equal work until around 2057.

In this day and age, when women in the workplace are no longer unusual and more women than men have college degrees, why are women still not being paid equally? A great deal of the problem likely continues to lie with employers. Pregnancy discrimination continues to be a problem as many mothers find that advancement in the workplace is made more difficult after maternity leave.

Other observers believe that female workers could do more to convince their employers to give them higher salaries. One survey found that 16 percent of women always try to negotiate their pay when accepting a new job or during performance reviews.

Compensation is supposed to be based on an employee's performance, experience, skill and other factors outside of the employee's gender, skin color or ethnicity. Those who believe they are being paid less than they are worth due to impermissible discrimination may have a cause of action against their employer.

Source: Richmond Times Dispatch, "Labor Law: The Equal Pay Act," Karen Michael, June 16, 2013

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