Wage Discrimination: Behind the Numbers

By Jocelyn Frye and Kaitlin Holmes

Equal pay is often framed in the public debate as being solely a women’s issue. But a close look at the data reveals that wage discrimination is a problem experienced by many different groups, including women, men, older workers, and workers with disabilities.

A review of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge filings data—both public and unpublished—helps paint a diverse and nuanced picture of wage discrimination claims. Having a clearer, more accurate understanding of wage discrimination is essential in identifying the breadth of the challenges facing workers and the most effective solutions in response to the needs of workers.

The majority of wage discrimination charges alleging discrimination based on gender are filed by women. But a portion of gender-based wage discrimination charges are also filed by men. A review of unpublished EEOC data from the past four fiscal years shows that men filed, on average, 15 percent of gender-based wage discrimination charges.

Overall, wage discrimination charges are filed under several different laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The majority of wage discrimination charges are filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These charges include claims alleging wage discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, and religion. Gender-based wage discrimination claims are also filed under the Equal Pay Act. Nearly one-fifth of wage discrimination charges include an allegation of wage discrimination based on age, and a slightly smaller percentage of charges allege wage discrimination on the basis of disability.

The data make clear that wage discrimination is experienced by workers in a variety of different ways. This diverse snapshot is important to understand because too often, opponents of strengthening equal pay protections dismiss concerns about unequal pay, arguing that wage discrimination is simply about women’s choices. But the data tell a different story. Pay disparities persist across many different groups. Stereotypes about workers because of their race, age, disability status, or other factors can result in discrimination that devalues their work and results in lower pay. These economic consequences can be devastating for working families trying to make ends meet.

This necessitates concrete solutions and tools that combat wage discrimination while reflecting a broader understanding of discrimination in its different forms. Tools aimed at providing greater insight into pay differences are critical. For example, the Employer Information Report, or EEO-1 form—a form that employers with 100 or more employees are required to file annually to provide a demographic breakdown of their workforce—was updated during the Obama administration to require the inclusion of pay data across different job categories. This new information will provide invaluable and greater insight into pay differences by race, ethnicity, and gender that can inform federal agency enforcement efforts. Additional strategies are also needed to examine how wage discrimination operates in the workplace and whether intersectional differences such as age, disability status, and emerging areas of the law such as LGBTQ status affect pay disparities among workers, rather than assuming pay disparities are normal or to be expected.

Equal pay for equal work is a cornerstone of this nation’s commitment to equality and fairness in the workplace. To combat wage discrimination effectively, it is vital to recognize the diverse ways pay disparities arise in the workplace and to pursue a wide range of strategies in response.


Reposted from CAP

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work