What Is Wage Discrimination?

Haven Esme

Wage discrimination describes employment practices in which a person, company, or corporation discriminates between employees in the area of pay. Wage discrimination isn’t just confined to annual pay. Overtime pay, bonuses, vacation pay, holiday pay and even retirement benefits can be affected by wage discrimination.

Women often earn less than their male counterparts in the same job.
Women often earn less than their male counterparts in the same job.

The most prevalent form of wage discrimination can be seen in gender. In numerous cases, companies pay women less than men to work in the same occupations with similar job duties and responsibilities. The wage gap between men and women has been a controversial issue for many years.

The most prevalent form of wage discrimination can be seen in gender.
The most prevalent form of wage discrimination can be seen in gender.

For many years, researchers have attempted to determine the reasons women are often paid less than men. Some researchers believe that pay discrimination isn't always the result of sexist beliefs. In some cases, employers may be affected by an unconscious bias when evaluating the expertise and skills between men and women. Numerous studies have revealed that even with identical resumes, men are simply viewed more favorably. Studies have also revealed that income inequalities are not the result of qualifications or choices, but are often simply based on gender.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers wage discrimination. The act makes it illegal to discriminate in any aspect of employment. This includes compensation, pay, retirement plans, and fringe benefits.

Another notable piece of legislation against wage discrimination is the Equal Pay Act. Under the Equal Pay Act, employers must give men and women equalivant and fair pay for equal work. Jobs do not need to be identical, however, they must be equal in terms of job content. Despite legislation such as the Equal Pay Act, wage discrimination continues.

Differentiations in wages are permitted based on several factors. For example, a wage differential is legal when the employer bases the difference on seniority. Employers with a bona fide seniority system can pay their employees based on that system.

Employers can also differentiate based on quantity or quality of production. This is especially prevalent in positions in which commissions comprises a percentage of salary. In this case, an individual may be paid more based on a greater volume of sales. Furthermore, an employee’s education, experience and training may also justify a wage differential.

Individuals who are the victim of wage discrimination can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The commission ensures that employers abide by federal policies and regulations. Additionally, the commission provides legal support to employees who are treated unfairly. Over the years, there have been numerous lawsuits and class action settlements because of wage discrimination.

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Discussion Comments


@bluedolphin-- I agree with you that the bill in 2014 should have passed but I don't think that women are all discriminated against when it comes to wage. My mother is a CEO and she didn't face any discrimination getting to where she is now, neither when being hired or being paid.

This is actually one of the few countries in the world that protects the rights of women in all areas of life. Most other countries are far behind. There are countries, even in Eastern Europe, where women do not have equal rights and are not treated fairly. I realize thing are not perfect yet, but we're getting there.


@turquoise-- Yes, there was a Gender Pay Equality bill proposed in the Senate in 2014. It was around April. And you do remember correctly, it was voted down, it never passed. The Republicans all voted against it.

If the bill had passed it would have been a great way forward for determining and preventing wage discrimination based on gender. The bill would have allowed employees to know what everyone else was earning. This seems to be the main barrier for the determination of wage discrimination at the workplace. Women simply don't know what their male colleagues are making. So they often don't realize that discrimination is taking place.

It's so embarrassing if you think about it, that Republican senators are very happy about the discrimination against women when it comes to wage and they want it to continue. Sad state of affairs for the United States of America, the land of equality and freedom.


Wasn't there a vote in the Senate about this in 2014? I vaguely remember it and if I remember correctly, Senate voted unfavorably for wage equality. There was a wide, negative public response, especially from women.

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