Activists in California and across the United States observed Equal Pay Day on April 10 with a sad reminder about what still needs to be done in regard to the gender pay gap in the American workplace. According to the most recent estimates published by the Institute of Women's Policy Research, an organization that has been researching income disparity since 1987, female workers in the U.S. earn just a little over 80 cents per every dollar earned by their male counterparts.
The gender pay gap situation looks even more dismal when digging deeper into the statistics. On average, African-American women earn just 63 cents per every dollar earned by men, and Hispanic-American women earn just 54 cents. While wage discrimination is prohibited by federal laws, such as the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, there is a clear need to revisit existing legislation and encourage employers to adopt smart practices to bridge this socioeconomic gap.
Some major American companies have taken the initiative to audit their payrolls for the purpose of getting a clear picture of how they stand on the gender pay gap debate. Starbucks and Delta Air Lines have detected outdated corporate practices that may have been conducive to glass-ceiling and lower-pay situations for women, and they are working on correcting such issues.
In California, wage discrimination is prohibited by virtue of section 1197.5 of the state's Labor Code. Women who feel that they have not been treated equally in terms of earnings potential should discuss such matters with an employment law firm. In some cases, damages could be recovered along with lost wages without engaging in litigation. Many companies prefer to settle cases related to discrimination since public trials could prove detrimental to their reputations.