Time to Require Equal Pay for Equal Work

by: Oren Segal

April 11, 2016

Diverse Business Team Discussing Work In Office

It’s April 12, 2016 — Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date that women need to work until to catch up with what men had earned by last Dec. 31. The fact is that women who work full time, are paid an average of 79 cents for every dollar paid to men — and on average, African American and Latina women are paid even less. It’s not a day to celebrate, but it is a teachable moment to focus on the needless, costly, and discriminatory gender wage gap — and on what we can do about it.

One high-profile example of unequal pay is that members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team, the best team in the world, are paid less than their US male team counterparts.  Five members of the team recently brought a wage discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Progress in Recent Years

  • In August 2014, Pres­i­dent Obama signed two direc­tives aimed at clos­ing the wage gap for Federal workers.   First, an Exec­u­tive Order pro­hibiting fed­eral con­trac­tors from retal­i­at­ing against employ­ees for shar­ing their salary infor­ma­tion, making it eas­ier for women to dis­cover and address pay­check inequity. And, second, the Pres­i­dent instructed the Depart­ment of Labor to cre­ate new reg­u­la­tions requir­ing fed­eral con­trac­tors and subcontractors to report salary infor­ma­tion to the gov­ern­ment, expos­ing salary inequities and thereby encour­ag­ing con­trac­tors to close the wage gap on their own.
  • And in January, the EEOC issued complementary “Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues.” ADL joined two dozen other national organizations on a letter, drafted by the National Women’s Law Center, supporting the proposal and suggesting way to clarify the protections and safeguards even further.


Learn, Raise Awareness – and Promote Fairness.

On this Equal Pay Day, let’s commit to spreading the word about the discriminatory pay gap between men and women – so we can close it.   Here are two great ways to get the word out:   

MTV Pay Equity
  • MTV’s Emmy Award-winning “Look Different” anti-bias campaign has created the “79% Work Clock” — a clock that chimes every day at 3:20 p.m. – signifying 79% of the 9-5 workday, or the time, after which, women are no longer paid for equal work.  Their website includes a 79-Percent Calculator to help individuals find the correct time setting for their personal work clocks based on their work hours and race — and to learn more about the gender wage gap in America.
  • The Anti-Defamation League recently developed a High School lesson plan on the gender wage gap that provides an opportunity for students to reflect on their own opinions about sexism, understand the gender pay gap and its various manifestations, and consider ways that it can be overcome.

Although we’ve made some progress in the fight for equal pay, much more needs to be done.  ADL and a broad coalition of civil rights and women’s groups support The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA HR 1619/S 862)), which would give teeth to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it unlaw­ful for busi­nesses to pay men and women dif­fer­ent salaries for per­form­ing sub­stan­tially the same work. The PFA would make it ille­gal for com­pa­nies to retal­i­ate against employ­ees for dis­cussing salary dif­fer­ences and open­ busi­nesses up to civil lia­bil­ity for salary inequity.

By raising awareness and demanding legislative action, we can speed the day when the alarm clock representing the wage gap rings later and later in the day – until we will not need it at all.