"According to some federal data, on average, full-time female workers earn approximately 20% less than full-time male workers. At least a portion of this gap is due to observable factors such as hours worked and the concentration of female workers in lower-paid occupations. Some interpret these data as evidence that discrimination, if present at all, is a minor factor in the pay differentials and conclude that no policy changes are necessary. Conversely, advocates for further policy interventions note that some of the explanatory factors of the pay gap (such as occupation and hours worked) could be the result of discrimination and that no broadly accepted methodology is able to attribute the entirety of the pay gap to non-gender factors.
Currently, there are two federal laws that may provide a remedy to employees who believe that
unlawful sex-based wage discrimination has occurred: the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under the EPA, employers are prohibited from paying lower wages
to female employees than male employees for “equal work” on jobs requiring “equal skill, effort,
and responsibility” and performed “under similar working conditions” at the same location. Thus,
the EPA is narrowly focused on the factual question of whether an employer has, on the basis of
sex, paid unequal wages for equal work. In contrast, Title VII, which prohibits employment
discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex, is far broader in scope
than the EPA and focuses on determining whether an employer had a discriminatory motive for
paying workers differently on the basis of sex..."