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A Message from Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic

Post from Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic - April 2019

Equal Pay Day, April 2, 2019

Today we recognize Equal Pay Day - how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned the previous year.  On this April 2nd, it feels like December 31, 2018 was a very long time ago.  For women of color, the wage gap extends even further into the year.  And so, we are reminded of the clear and obvious moral point that no one should ever be underpaid or treated adversely because of gender, period.

What we know at the EEOC is that pay discrimination, the concept of "equal pay for equal work" enshrined in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, is real.  We see and bring the cases every year.    In FY 2018, the agency garnered about $4.1 million just in litigation for discrimination victims whose claims included equal pay violations. If we add in our work in resolving equal pay charges at the administrative level in the last fiscal year, that adds another $10.5 million on behalf of workers. 

Some of the recent cases the EEOC has filed on equal pay include:

  • A University employer paid $2.6 million to seven aggrieved law school professors. The EEOC had charged the law school of paying female tenured law professors less than similarly situated male colleagues performing the same or substantially similar work.
  • A county government employer in Maryland, paid $145,402 for violating the EPA by paying a female engineer at the county's Department of Environment lower wages than it paid to male colleagues performing equal work. Besides paying damages, the county agreed to raise her pay to an equitable level.
  • Another county government employer in Texas, paid $115,000 to a female former primary care doctor at a county clinic. The county Public Health Department had hired a male colleague at starting salary that was $34,000 higher than the woman doctor despite their identical duties.

We see too many examples of the cases like these.  In addition, the consequences of harassment at work can have a devastating impact on compensation for women, resulting in lost employment opportunities, adverse actions, and ultimately lost pay for time taken to avoid or recover from it.  Know that at the EEOC in the face of pay discrimination, we will continue to enforce the law and do our part to help eliminate the months it takes for women to catch-up.  Some day, April should be recognized only as the month we pay our taxes.