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The Equal Pay Act: How does this law protect workers?

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 makes it unlawful to pay workers unequal amounts on the job simply because of their genders. In the 1960s, this act was added as an amendment to the already-existing Fair Labor Standards Act. Lawmakers created the EPA to fix the considerable pay inequity between the genders at the time. A year later, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was also passed, and this served to prohibit other forms of discrimination -- including gender discrimination -- in the workplace.

Unfortunately, gender-based discrimination continues today, including pay discrimination. Here's what the EPA says on gender pay discrimination:

-- The genders must receive the same amount of pay and wages when they carry out similar work that requires a similar amount of effort, skill and responsibility. In this way, the EPA governs the compensation paid by all employers, including state, federal and local governments, in addition to private employers.

-- To prove a claim of gender discrimination under the EPA a claimant needs to show that a man and a woman working for the same employer performing similar jobs receive unequal amounts of pay.

-- If the employer wants to defend against the unequal pay problem, the employer needs to show that the pay inequity was because of merit, seniority, the quality or quantity of work or other valid reasons.

If you're receiving unequal pay compared to other genders at your workplace, it's a good idea to look deeper into the issue. You might have a viable cause of action that you can use to seek financial restitution in court or bring the unequal pay situation to stop.

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