By Richard E Walrath and Patricia L Johnson
"The female-to-male earnings ratio of 0.77 in 2006 was not statistically different from the 2005 ratio..."
That is a direct quote from the recent report "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006" released by the U.S. Census Bureau in August of 2007.
In this day and age, why would any person be willing to earn .23 cents less on a dollar just because they are a female? Are you satisfied earning .77 cents for every dollar the guy in the next chair is making?
Do you sit there and file your nails all day long, or do you put as much effort into your job as anyone else?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it an "unlawful employment practice" to discriminate "against any individual with respect to compensation..."
Are you doing the same job and being paid less than your male counterpart? If so, you have the right to file a claim with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), but remember there is a 180-300 day statute of limitations on filing a claim, depending upon the state.
Lilly Ledbetter found out about the statute of limitations the hard way by losing her discrimination case against Goodyear Tire and Rubber. After winding its way through the lower courts, Ledbetter's case went to the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling, where the following question was posed:
Whether and under what circumstances a plaintiff may bring an action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alleging illegal pay discrimination when the disparate pay is received during the statutory limitations period, but is the result of intentionally discriminatory pay decisions that occurred outside the limitations period.
The Supreme Court came back with a 5-4 ruling against Ledbetter in case 05-1074 LEDBETTER v. GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER CO., INC. and the following excerpt reminds us why time limitations are so important.
"Ledbetter should have filed an EEOC charge within 180 days after each allegedly discriminatory pay decision was made and communicated to her. She did not do so,"
Some people just like to keep their jobs, especially since there's a probation period in many of them and they are reluctant to make waves for fear of being being fired. Your first step should always be to discuss your complaint with your employer - there may be a legitimate reason for the rate disparity.
Whether you are an hourly employee or a salaried employee, you have the same rights when it comes to wage discrimination in the workplace, but the EEOC isn't going to come seek you out, you must contact them to pursue your claim.
The 180-300 day limit allowed to file a claim is a very short period of time, especially if you are a new employee on the job, but how long does it take to make a phone call to the EEOC for an opinion?
Maybe there should not be inequality in the workplace, but it's there all right, and, as you can see from the statistics, it's not going to go away any time soon. A lower rate of pay for doing the exact same job is discrimination - know your rights and fight for them.
As more women inch their way up into the executive ranks and are able to hire more women, the inequality will gradually diminish.