Under federal law, any kind of gender-based pay disparity is illegal—period. “There is no question that federal law prohibits pay inequality based on gender—the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 clearly prohibit this type of discrimination,” says attorney David Middlebrook. Yet according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), an economic think tank based in Washington, D.C., US Census Bureau data measuring full-time workers’ annual pay show that “women are paid 80 cents for every dollar men are paid.” The statistics on hourly pay aren’t much better: 83 cents for every man’s dollar.
In an October 2016 report, EPI acknowledged the “fraught” nature of the gender gap topic and the “speculat[ion] that the ‘unadjusted’ gender wage gap could simply be reflecting other influences,” such as education level and occupation. Even with such adjustments, however, EPI found a disparity in pay between the genders.
“[B]ecause gender wage gaps that are ‘adjusted’ for workers’ characteristics (through multivariate regression) are often smaller than unadjusted measures,” the report stated, “people commonly infer that gender discrimination is a smaller problem in the American economy than thought.”