BY: Jesse Young | IN: Unpaid Wages & Overtime
Gender pay disparity refers to the difference in pay between men and women. Nationally, women make about 83 cents for every dollar a man makes. But it’s even worse in the Great Lakes State; here, women make roughly 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, and the gender pay disparity is even wider in minority groups, contributing to a widening wealth gap in Michigan.
At its heart, gender pay disparity is an issue of fairness. When women are paid less than their male counterparts for performing the same job duties with the same qualifications, they lose out on both income potential and future promotions. As a result, women have far fewer opportunities to build up savings, build wealth, and retire with financial resources.
So why does this problem exist? Discriminatory hiring practices are a significant factor behind gender pay disparities. Women may be offered significantly lower salaries relative to men for similar roles or find themselves excluded from certain positions altogether due to policies that favor males. Many employers still use outdated compensation systems where wages are based largely on years of experience instead of skill level or job performance. This perpetuates disparities among workers with different levels of seniority, many of whom happen to be female.
Making Matters Worse: Michigan Prohibits Pay History Bans
Many states have enacted legislation prohibiting private and public employers from asking into job candidates’ pay histories. Without these bans, employers could perpetuate pay gaps by compensating women and minority workers less than their white male counterparts, even though the offered compensation is more than the candidates previously earned.
Michigan, however, has not kept pace. Private employers may still ask candidates about their current salaries, wages, benefits, and compensation packages. What’s worse, Michigan law prohibits local governments from regulating the information that employers may request from prospective hires, including pay histories.
While Michigan’s private employers may inquire about pay history, state government offices are precluded from making pay history inquiries before a job offer is extended, nor can they ask candidates’ current or past employers or search public records to discover that information. If salary is already known, it cannot be used to make a hiring decision. State offices may only ask about pay histories once an employment offer is on the table.
What Can Employers Do to Fix the Problem?
Fortunately, employers have tools available to help reduce gender wage disparities. Ensuring fair pay structures based on market-rate surveys can help eliminate gaps between men’s and women’s wages within the organization due to unbalanced hiring practices or salary negotiations favoring one group over another. Also, clear policies against wage discrimination and effective procedures for responding to complaints can ensure all employees receive equal rewards for their efforts despite gender identity or family status. Finally, organizations should prioritize mentorship programs and training opportunities tailored toward female cohorts so members of these groups have the skills to propel them into leadership positions where they can further tackle hiring and compensation inequality issues.
Whether you’re a national soccer player or a regular hard worker, getting paid fairly shouldn’t require incredible effort. You have the right to equal pay. Explore those by contacting a Sommers Schwartz equal pay attorneytoday to discuss your case and learn how we can help.
View all posts byJesse Young
Jesse Young represents clients in serious employment disputes, such as severance negotiations, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing activity, employment contracts, terminations, and compliance. In addition, he has appeared in hundreds of wage-and-hour lawsuits and hundreds more arbitrations arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act and similar state laws.