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EEOC Informal Discussion Letter

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

This document was rescinded in December 2019 as part of EEOC's effort to provide guidance and information that is current, accurate, and clear.

EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.

Title VII: Equal Pay Act

January 31, 2000


I am writing in response to your e-mail concerning the Paycheck Fairness Act and other initiatives to address pay differentials between men and women. Your message has been forwarded to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for response.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which was introduced in the last session of Congress, amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to those who have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex in the payment of wages. The bill is intended to strengthen the Equal Pay Act, which bars sex discrimination in wages between employees who are performing jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions. Among other things, the bill:

  • requires employers who claim that a wage differential is based on a "factor other than sex" to show that the factor is job-related for the position in question; furthers a legitimate business purpose; and was actually used in creating the wage differential;
  • explicitly extends the protections of the Equal Pay Act to applicants for employment;
  • creates an explicit prohibition on retaliating against employees or applicants who seek information about wages or initiate or assist in investigations or proceedings under the law; and
  • provides for the payment of appropriate compensatory and/or punitive damages in the event of violation of the Act.

President Clinton has called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, and is committed to taking steps to ensure that women and men receive equal pay. For your reference, the bill can be accessed through the Legislative History and Bill Tracking Subdirectory of the Westlaw service.

In his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2001, President Clinton has also requested additional funding for the EEOC and for the Department of Labor so that both agencies can

undertake enhanced actions to secure equal pay for men and women. If Congress approves the President's request, the EEOC will spend its additional funding to train new investigators; to teach businesses how to meet legal requirements; and to launch a public education campaign for

employers and employees. The Department of Labor will train women in non-traditional jobs, such as high technology jobs; fund programs to help employers improve their pay policies; and strengthen industry partnerships to help women retain jobs and progress in the work force.

I hope that the above information is helpful to you.


This page was last modified on December 18, 2019.