Equal pay for equal work … it’s a concept that has long been disputed in American employment law. Did you know that it wasn’t started by women advocating for equal pay, but by unions fighting for equal wages for men? When soldiers went off to fight World War II and women worked their jobs to keep the U.S. economy functioning, the National War Labor Board urged employers to pay women the same wages as their male counterparts. Because, however, most companies did not heed this advice, men returning from war worried that their jobs would be permanently taken by the cheaper women’s labor force. In response, unions stepped in to try to stop employers from undercutting men’s wages. The concept of equal pay grew out of these circumstances, and has since been equated to lower wages paid to women. What ensued after a decades-long fight was the Equal Pay Act of 1963, signed into the nation’s employment laws by President John F. Kennedy.
The EEOC or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was developed and created through the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, it has a mission that has been shaped by numerous pieces of legislation. It may have seemed to start simple enough but over the years many laws and amendments have continued to expand the role, responsibilities and authority of the EEOC. There are many pieces of legislation that make up the employment protection laws of the United States.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the EEOC is a federal agency which has the responsibility of enforcing federal laws which prohibit discrimination of any kind in the workplace. Employment laws are in place which make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an applicant or an employee based on the individual’s color, race, gender, state of pregnancy, religion, age (40 years old and above), national origin, genetic information or disability. Retaliation against a person who complains about or reports discrimination, files a discrimination claim, or participates in an investigation about employment discrimination is also prohibited. Most employers who have a minimum of 15 employees must abide by EEOC laws. In age discrimination cases the company has to have at least 20 employees. Most employment agencies and labor unions are covered by EEOC laws as well. Discrimination laws are applicable to all kinds of work situations such as hiring and firing, harassment, wages, benefits, training and promotions.