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The Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. While the jobs do not have to be identical, they must be substantially equal. The job content, not the job title, determines whether jobs are substantially equal.  All forms of pay are covered by the Equal Pay Act, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, life insurance, holiday and vacation pay, reimbursement for travel expenses and benefits.

The right of employees to be free from discrimination in their compensation is protected under several federal laws. The Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title I of the American with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate based on sex in pay and benefits. So, a person who has an Equal Pay Act claim may also have a claim under Title VII.

Virtually all employers are subject to the Equal Pay Act. Under the Equal Pay Act, an employee has within two years of the alleged unlawful compensation practice, or if the employer’s violation was willful, three years, to go directly to court or to the EEOC.  An employee alleging a violation of the EPA is not required to file an EEOC charge but may go directly to court.

For more information, visit the EEOC question-and-answer page about discrimination.

A recent development involving the Equal Pay Act is the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act and help secure equal pay for equal work for all workers. Click here to get more information on the Paycheck Fairness Act.  

For more information about equal pay and job discrimination against women, check out:

       It's Time for Working Women to Earn Equal Pay, by the AFL-CIO.

       The National Committee on Pay Equity site

       Equal Pay Toolkit by the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau

       Equal Pay study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

       Fact Sheet on the Paycheck Fairness Act by the National Partnership for Women and Families

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