Is it possible that, in 2015, after the passing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, women are still being paid only 78 cents for every dollar paid to men for the same work? Unfortunately, it is possible. Even more disturbing may be the fact that, in a work field dominated by women, men are still being paid more for the same job. Somewhere between 9-11% of nurses are men – yet they they earn thousands of dollars more per year than women. What is being done about this wage disparity?
Pay Discrimination Is Illegal
There are four federal statutes that make discrimination in salary or wages illegal: The Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The Equal Pay Act (EPA) requires that men and women be paid the same for equal work in the same establishment. The remaining statutes provide more general protections against discrimination, but include prohibitions against compensation discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. Unlike the EPA, there is no requirement under Title VII, the ADEA and the ADA that the jobs must be "substantially equal to that of a higher paid person."
What Is the Paycheck Fairness Act?
On March 25, 2015, lawmakers reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would help narrow the gender pay gap that still exists, despite other laws already in place which prohibit compensation discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act would not only update, but also reinforce the Equal Pay Act, closing legal loopholes that have reduced its success in combatting pay discrimination.
What Changes Will the Paycheck Fairness Act Bring?
The Paycheck Fairness Act would prevent employers from using certain unjust defenses for pay discrimination. Exceptions would be limited to bona fide factors such as education, training and experience. The new act would also specifically prohibit retaliation for employees who discuss their salaries. Another important change is that employees claiming wage disparity will be allowed to compare themselves to similarly situated employees, who may not work in the same physical location.
How Bad Is the Pay Disparity in the Nursing Field?
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently released a very eye-opening study focusing on the pay disparity in the nursing field. Male nurses make, on average, $5,100 more each year than female nurses. The wage gap varies across medical specialties, but it still exists. For instance, male cardiology nurses were paid approximately $6,000 more than their female colleagues in cardiology and male nurses in chronic care were paid approximately $3,800 more than their female colleagues in those specialties. Most significantly, male nurse anesthetists were paid approximately $17,290 more on average, per year, than female nurse anesthetists. These numbers are disappointing to see, more than 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act. It seems Congress still has a lot of work to do.
Are you receiving fair pay? If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination, Wrady Michel & Kingis here to help. Get in touch with our Birmingham employment discrimination attorneys today to discuss your situation and learn about your legal options with our firm. Call us at (205) 265-1880 or fill out a case evaluation form to get started!