Equal Pay Act


On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act, a law passed to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The goal of the law was simple: to ensure that in the matter of pay, employers do not discriminate on the basis of gender, generally meaning that they do not pay women less than men for the same work. The Equal Pay Act was intended to provide a broad remedial framework for ending gender discrimination. Within the framework, the U.S. Supreme Court has had to adjudicate claims of gender discrimination. In doing so, the Supreme Court applies a three-part test: Are higher wages paid to employees of the opposite sex? Do the employees perform substantially equal work on jobs requiring equal effort, skill, and responsibility? Are the jobs performed under similar conditions? If the answers to these questions are yes, the employer is strictly liable, regardless of the employer's intent.

The Equal Pay Act arose in the context of “second-wave...

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John F. Kennedy (Library of Congress)

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