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EEOC and OPM Promise Rigorous Enforcement of Equal Pay Laws

This development from the EEOC and OPM:  To improve the Federal Government's role as a model employer and to close the continued wage gap between men and women, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a joint letter in which they have pledged to ensure rigorous enforcement of the equal pay laws for all federal employees.

When the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy, women were paid on average $.59 for every dollar paid to men. While some narrowing of the pay gap has been achieved, today women are paid an average of $.77 for every dollar paid to men, and the numbers are worse for African-American women and Latinas.  In 2010 President Obama established the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, which brought together OPM, EEOC, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Justice to provide a roadmap for Federal agencies working to increase compliance with federal equal pay laws. The Task Force recommended that OPM and EEOC work together to ensure the most rigorous possible enforcement of the equal pay laws in federal sector employment.

According to their joint letter, the EEOC and OPM are working with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to identify reasons for the wage gap and ways to close it. In the joint letter, the EEOC and OPM state that they are committed to ensuring equal pay for equal work without regard to gender or any other prohibited basis. The EPA requires that the federal government pay men and women equal pay for equal work. The jobs do not need to be identical, but they must be substantially equal. If there is an inequality in wages between men and women, employers may not reduce the wages of either sex to equalize the pay. Title VII also makes it illegal for the Federal Government to discriminate based on gender in pay and benefits, therefore, an employee who has an EPA claim may also have a claim under title VII. Unfortunately, the letter provides no specifics other than the two agencies will work with GAO in an attempt to determine the root causes of pay disparity in the federal sector.

Employees are reminded that if they receive less pay based on gender, they would have claims against their employing agency under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964.  Employees are encouraged to discuss a violation of their rights with a knowledgable EEO professional in the agency or an attorney experienced in handling federal sector EEO claims.  If you are interested in an initial consultation with a Passman & Kaplan attorney, you can easily request a consultation on-line through our web site.


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