The Equal Pay Act and Gender Discrimination
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits employers from paying unequal pay to women for equal work. The Act prohibits discrimination with respect to wages, which includes base salary, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and other fringe benefits. The Act does not require that a female employee show that the pay disparity was intentional or based on her gender; she need only show that there is a pay disparity, i.e. that a male employee at the same company is paid a higher “wage” for performing substantially equal work.
Although the Equal Pay Act has been on the books for over forty years, recent studies have shown that women continue to be paid less than men for performing the same work. According to a 2003 study by the U.S. Department of Labor, women make 78% of men’s wages across the board. Most surprising, the wage disparity is greatest among the most highly educated groups.
Employers have developed fairly standard arguments to evade liability. For example, employers routinely try to distinguish the work performed by a female employee and her male counterparts by arguing that the male employees’ jobs require more skill. Employers also try to identify something in the male employee’s background or resume that distinguishes him from the female employee in order to justify his higher wage
Pregnancy Discrimination Violates Multiple Laws
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of gender discrimination, which was made illegal in the workplace with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Later laws, such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), also ensure that America’s working women don’t have to face serious negative career repercussions due to pregnancy.
In addition, pregnancy discrimination can also be construed in some circumstances to violate provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is not to say that pregnancy is classified as a “disability” per se, but if your employer perceives pregnancy as being a disability and then makes discriminatory decisions based on that perception, that’s illegal.
In recent years, pregnancy discrimination has been on the rise. Pregnancy discrimination is one of the most offensive forms of discrimination, and we emphasize this area of law in our practice.
The Subtle Forms of Pregnancy Discrimination
If your employer perceives pregnancy to be a disability, then he or she may make discriminatory decisions in an effort to accommodate you. In some forms, this can be helpful and maybe even welcome. In other forms, it can harm your career.
For example, many women report being stripped of their primary job responsibilities during pregnancy. The employer may just be trying to reduce the stress and workload of the pregnant employee, but the employee has lost the opportunity to perform and, in many ways, to advance in her career.