According to the White House, in the U.S. women on average get paid about 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Under federal and state law, it’s illegal to discriminate against a person in the workplace on the basis of sex. Although women can legally be paid less than men, it must be for a reason – less experience, a less demanding position, worse performance, etc. A woman cannot legally be paid less than a man simply because she is a woman.
However, it can be difficult to hold employers legally liable for sex discrimination at work in the area of pay, because it can be hard for employees to find out how much other employees in their company are being paid. If you are a female nurse with 10 years’ experience working for a hospital and you are making $31 an hour, you may not be aware that a male nurse who also has 10 years’ experience and the same job duties as you is making $36 an hour.
One San Francisco official is looking to ensure that women and men who perform the same job duties are being paid fairly. San Francisco Supervisor David Campos introduced legislation that will require city contractors with at least 20 employees to report annually their employees’ pay to the Human Rights Commission. The information will be confidential, and will include data about workers’ race and sex. If an employee had concerns about wage discrimination, the Human Rights Commission would then be able to investigate.
Other cities and states in America also collect pay data. However, this proposal would be the first to compile individualized data on each worker. Under the proposal, some of the details on reporting will be decided by working groups, which will consider what kind of data collection systems can most easily identify if wage discrimination is occurring but will be least burdensome for businesses. Once the data has been collected, the Human Rights Commission will be in charge of investigating charges of discrimination and can also recommend financial penalties for the company.
Sex discrimination at work is prevalent, although it is illegal under federal and California law. It not only involves women being paid less than men, but can also occur when a company refuses to hire a person because of their sex, doesn’t promote a person because of their sex, or takes any other adverse actions against a person because of his or her sex. It’s also illegal to harass a person in the workplace because of his or her sex, which can include sexual advances that are unwelcome, requests for sexual favors, and any other harassment of a sexual nature.
Although studies show that on average women are paid less than men, men can be the victims of sex discrimination at work as well. It’s important to note though, that not every situation in which a woman is paid less than a man (or vice versa) for the same work is a situation of sex discrimination. The employer may have a valid reason for paying a woman less than a man. However, if the employer has a history of treating one sex differently at work, sex discrimination may be to blame.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against on the basis of your sex, or if you are being harassed at work because of your sex, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland sex discrimination attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that an employee’s pay should be determined on the basis of their contributions to the company, rather than their gender. Call today for a free consultation on your case.