U.S. struggles with compensation equality decades after Equal Pay Act

Did you know that the Equal Pay Act has been in play for 50 years? John F. Kennedy signed the law, which was intended to promote equal pay for women. Yet, even today, CBS news reports that women still earn approximately 77 cents for every dollar that men make. The statistics are even lower for minority women.

According to some lawmakers who are against this discrepancy, the issue can have grave consequences for the market. Specifically, if women are not paid equally for their qualifications, this hurts the economy. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York explains that if women were paid dollar for dollar, the Gross Domestic Product would rise by approximately 9 percent. This would improve the economy.

Along with a number of other senators, Sen. Gillibrand attempted to co-sponsor an update to the Equal Pay Act this legislative session. It was called the Paycheck Fairness Act. However, in June 2013, the Senate did not secure the necessary 60 votes needed to pass the law. Proponents attribute politics to the law's failure.

In the end, lawmakers did not advocate for the Paycheck Fairness Act; however, there are ways for women to make strides in payment equality. For example, CBS notes that one main reason for the disparity is that women, unlike men, do not always negotiate their salary upon receiving a job offer. Women tend to think this practice is confrontational, sources report. However, men see the salary issue as a discussion. In fact, only 7 percent of women negotiate their salaries when offered a position. On the other hand, more than 55 percent of men will ask for more compensation, according to CBS News.

Ultimately, advocates of equal pay note that this is not simply a gender equality issue. It is also important to inform society on the benefits of equalizing pay. Specifically, such actions could stabilize the middle class and, in turn, the country's economy.

Pay differences are just one example of inequality in the working world. However, some issues are manifested in other ways, which are illegal. Gender discrimination and sexual harassment are still prevalent in the workplace. Nevertheless, these practices are unlawful. If you believe that you have been victimized in the workplace based on your gender or sex, you may benefit from speaking with a qualified employment law attorney in your area. There are federal and state protections, which mandate equality in the workplace.