Equal Pay Act highlighted amid stories of unequal pay throughout the U.S.

The Equal Pay Act has been profiled in various media outlets in recent months, mainly because of the recent amendment to the law introduced in the U.S. Senate. Various stories have also been profiled regarding unequal pay between men and women that have gained widespread attention.

What is the Equal Pay Act?

The Equal Pay Act is a federal law passed by Congress in 1963 that essentially makes wage discrimination illegal in the workplace.

The law states that is it unlawful for employers to pay wages to employees of one sex a wage rate less than wages paid to employees of the opposite sex for performance of the same work of equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar conditions.

The law was passed in an effort to close the wage gap between men and women. Recent estimates conclude that women today earn roughly 75 cents for every dollar earned by male counterparts performing the same work.

Since the enactment of the law, wage discrimination has still remained a problem. A few examples are proof that the issue is far from resolved.

Examples of unequal pay throughout the nation

In 2009, a woman was promoted to manager at a bank. She didn't receive a bonus or raise when she started her new position. A man, who held the same job a year earlier, was paid almost $50,000 more than she was now making. She filed a lawsuit against her employer alleging wage discrimination. In 2012, she won and received back pay for roughly $340,000.

More recently, in April 2014, a female was working for a Las Vegas hotel and casino. She came into contact with documents that provided details about employee compensation. The information revealed that the woman was being paid much less than her male counterparts doing the same work at other locations. She filed a lawsuit against her employer for violations of the Equal Pay Act. The lawsuit is currently pending in federal court.

Yet more instances of wage discrimination, in the executive arena, highlight the issue. According to Bloomberg, female CEOs (who were among the top five highest paid CEOs of Standard & Poor's 500 Index companies in 2013) made 18 percent less than men CEO counterparts.

And, just last month, a New York Times analysis of Yahoo's proxy statement revealed that the present female COO of Yahoo made $62 million in 2012. Her predecessor male CEO (later fired from the position) made $96 million during his 15 months as CEO plus $58 million in severance pay.

Sadly, the list of wage discrimination among genders in various fields goes on and on.

Amendments to the Equal Pay Act

Subsequent amendments to the EPA have been proposed throughout the years since its enactment decades ago. The most recent amendment was a version of the Paycheck Fairness Act introduced in the Senate early last month. The amendment aimed to revise certain portions of the Equal Pay Act regarding the remedies to victims of wage discrimination, and other areas. However, on April 9, 2014, it failed to receive the votes needed to pass in the Senate.

Given that various media avenues continue to highlight the area, it's likely similar initiatives to end wage discrimination will be proposed in Congress in the future.

Keywords: Equal Pay Act, wage discrimination