The Equal Pay Act Of 1963

1533 words - 6 pages

The Equal Pay Act of 1963Throughout history, women have been paid less than men have, even when employed in identical jobs. It was generally accepted in the United States that men deserved to earn more money than women do, even if their work was identical. The contemporary mindset was that men were the heads of the households and therefore were the primary income producer in their families. This, of course, was not always so. In many homes, the head of household and sole breadwinner was a woman, for various reasons, ranging from death or disability of a spouse to divorce or single parenthood (DfEE).Regardless, the tradition of the men being the head of household was difficult to change. Even during World War II, when women were then being encouraged to go to work doing the same exact jobs the men did, women received about half the pay the men made. Then, when the men returned from the war, women had to give up their jobs and let the men have them back.Just before World War I, there were attempts made in some states to protect women by instituting minimum wage laws for women workers. However, the Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 1963. Then President John F. Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women recommended that Congress pass a law guaranteeing that women would receive equal pay with men for equal duties performed (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [TUSEEOC], 1997). On June 10, 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed by Congress declaring that women and men must receive equal pay for equal work. The Act was intended to prohibit discrimination due to sex in the payment of wages by employers engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce (PageWise, Inc., 2002).The Equal Pay Act states that:"The Congress hereby finds that the existence …. of wage differentials based on sex--(1) depresses wages and living standards for employees necessary for their health and efficiency;(2) prevents the maximum utilization of the available labor resources;(3) tends to cause labor disputes, thereby burdening, affecting, and obstructing commerce;(4) burdens commerce and the free flow of goods in commerce; and(5) constitutes an unfair method of competition"(Equal Opportunities Commission, 2004).Employers found to be in violation of the Act would be required to make up the wage difference to the employee and could pay legal costs and be subject to civil fines of up to $2,500 per violation (Department of Labor State of Illinois [DLSI], 2003).When the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, it met with many problems. The Equal Pay Act stipulates that wages cannot be lowered for one sex in order to prevent raising pay for the other. However, some employers continue to argue over what equal work actually is. Some companies even go as far as to change job titles and alter certain peripheral requirements so that they can say it is a different job and thereby continue to pay men more than they would pay women. Even until the 1970s,...

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