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Workplace Discrimination
equal pay for federal employees

For decades, the federal government has been a pioneer in the quest for equal pay stands.

Its perseverance stands as a testament to the ongoing commitment to gender equality and non-discrimination. But what do these efforts involve?

It began with the Equal Pay Act, which required federal employees to receive equal pay for equal work, no matter their sex or gender. This law helped shrink the pay gap from 28% to 11% between 1998 and 2007.

More recently, the Biden Administration has taken additional steps to further shrink the wage gap and strengthen the protections of the Equal Pay Act for federal employees. 

Today we’ll discuss the Equal Pay Act and how it protects federal employees from unequal pay. We’ll also discuss recent actions by the Biden Administration to promote equal pay for federal employees.

If you think you are not receiving equal pay because of your sex, contact our team of dedicated federal employment attorneys today. 

What Is the Equal Pay Act?

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) stands as the primary federal effort to eliminate the longstanding disparities in pay between men and women.

Congress crafted it with one simple intention: to guarantee that federal employees in the same workplace who perform substantially similar work under similar conditions receive equal pay.

Rather, agencies must set the pay for federal employees according to seniority, merit, efficiency, or some other factor that does not consider gender. It further states that agencies cannot reduce any employee’s wage to eliminate wage gaps between men and women. 

The EPA contains several other points:

  • Content counts. In assessing whether two jobs are substantially similar, job functions rather than job titles control. 
  • All types of compensation are covered. The EPA covers all forms of compensation, not just wages. That means men and women must receive equal salaries, overtime pay, bonuses, and benefits. 
  • There are penalties for noncompliance. The EPA works with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) to prohibit sex and gender discrimination in pay and compensation. Consequently, many people who suffer an EPA violation often have a Title VII claim. 

As with Title VII violations, federal employees who suspect that they are not receiving equal pay must contact an EEO counselor at their agency within 45 days of the alleged violation.

Remedies under the EPA can include back pay for up to three years before the filing of a charge, liquidated damages, and legal costs. 

Who Does the Equal Pay Act Protect?

The protective reach of the EPA extends to all federal employees. It also extends to all employees who fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In practice, this means virtually all employment contexts, including private educational institutions, private sector positions, and state and local governments.

Furthermore, the EPA implicitly recognizes the new definitions of gender and sex that are currently redefining the federal government. Therefore, employers cannot pay nonbinary individuals different wages. 

Initiatives by Recent Presidential Administrations

Several recent presidential administrations have taken steps to build upon the EPA and further the cause of equal pay.

In 2009, the Obama administration galvanized the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This act resets the statute of limitations on equal pay lawsuits with each discriminatory paycheck, effectively expanding the window for filing complaints.

President Obama established the National Equal Pay Task Force as well. This task force aimed to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, improve interagency coordination and data collection, and boost enforcement efforts.

More recently, the Biden administration issued a final rule by the Office of Personnel Management prohibiting federal agencies from considering someone’s current or past pay when determining their federal salary. 

We’re Ready to Help You Advance the Cause of Equal Pay Today.

The path to achieving and maintaining equal pay within the federal workforce is ongoing.

At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, PLLC, we are determined to assist any federal employee who suffers a violation of the EPA or other federal anti-discrimination laws.

We promise to leverage our legal experience to uphold the principles of equality and fairness.

If you believe you have been subjected to wage discrimination or if you are seeking advice on ensuring compliance with equal pay laws, do not hesitate to contact us.

Together, we can turn the ideal of equal pay for equal work into an enduring reality for the federal workforce.

Author Photo

Aaron Wersing, Attorney at Law

Aaron Wersing is the founder of the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing. Mr. Wersing graduated from the Georgia State University College of Law with a Doctorate in Jurisprudence and was the recipient of the CALI Excellence for the Future Award. Mr. Wersing previously attended the University of Georgia, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. Mr. Wersing is an active member of his local community. Mr. Wersing acts as a volunteer attorney with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the pro bono legal aid organization of the Houston Bar Association. He is also a member of professional legal organizations such as the National Employment Lawyers Association and the American Inns of Court. To reach Aaron for a consultation, please call him at (833) 833-3529.

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