Fair Pay: Is it legal for men to be paid more for the same job?

I am not a lawyer, so take this with a big grain of salt. The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 says that it is unlawful in the United States to pay women less salary than men for work that is "substantially equal." The law specifies that men and women must be paid equally for similar work unless the salary difference is based on seniority, experience, or other legitimate factors. At the time of the EPA’s passage, women made 58 cents for every dollar brought home by their male counterparts. The EPA was established to level out this salary imbalance.

Is the imbalance gone? Yes and no. For example, this PayScale salary data chart for the US shows women's salaries are only 77% of men's. However, this is across all jobs, locations, years of experience, etc. Once these salary factors are taken into account, the difference dramatically narrows. For example, this New England Journal of Medicine article found that, as of 1990, young male and female doctors, doing the same job with the same credentials, were paid the same salary. Without taking into account these legal factors for salary discrimination, young male doctors were paid on average 41% more.

If a women is paid less to do a job with the same title as a man, is that discrimination? PayScale's salary data show that a person can be paid twice as much as another, even if they have the same job title and are both male. Factors like experience, education, etc., explain the difference in salary.

Male or female, if you are being paid substantially below the market rate for your job and background (complete the PayScale Salary Survey to find out), use that information at your next salary negotiation to earn a raise.


Dr. Al Lee


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