Laleh Hassibi, PayScale
“Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.” -President Obama’s Inauguration Speech, 2013
Today marks the fourth anniversary of President Obama’s signing of
the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Though it may not have been enough to close the gender gap, other important advances,
like data-driven software, have helped the
cause tremendously. Let’s first take a look back at highlights of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act:
- It extends the time period in which employees can pursue disparate pay claims under four anti-discrimination laws: Title VII; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA); the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA); and the Rehabilitation Act (Rehab Act); and,
- It amends the Equal Pay Act (EPA) by providing for uncapped compensatory and punitive damages for violators; preventing employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with co-workers; and requiring employers who make legitimate employment decisions based on factors other than sex to prove these factors are “job related” and consistent with business necessity.
- In addition, any discriminatory pay decision restarts the 180/300-day period to file an EEOC charge. That is, the statute of limitations on pay discrimination claims restarts if:
- A discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted;
- An individual becomes subject to the decision or practice; or
- An individual is affected by an application of a discriminatory compensation decision or practice—including each time wages, benefits or other compensation is paid.
Was it Enough?
the wage gap still exists, with women making about 80 cents to the dollar that
men make. In fact, the wage gap is still such a concern that congress kicked
off its new session last week by revisiting the topic. Senator Barbara A.
Mikulski (D-Md.) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Paycheck
Fairness Act, which is aimed at ending wage discrimination between men and
women working in the same position basically by allowing more transparency in
But is the Gap Really That Big?
PayScale research shows a slightly different situation in
2012 than the overall view of the gender gap. What we found was that, when
comparing apples to apples, the gap is much smaller than the overall statistic. In
fact, in many skilled positions, women’s wages are lagging by only about 5
In this modern world, anybody can log into online
salary data sources, like PayScale.com, and rate their pay against others like
them. Concurrently, employers have access to the same data sources to help them
set compensation fairly. These technological advances are enabling more transparency in
fair pay and are empowering employees with knowledge to negotiate a fair
salary. At the same time employers have the tools at their fingertips to establish
fair pay practices in addition to being more easily able to defend salary decisions
based on market data.
Whether your organization’s pay system is fair is not quite
as important as if it is perceived as fair. If your employees perceive unfair
pay, your company will suffer in terms of lost productivity, challenges with talent
retention and EEOC audits. Federal mandates need not be the main factor in closing this gap. Company
practices around fairness, work hour flexibility and transparency can have an
even more important impact. Why wait for governance to force you into fair pay