The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace receive the same pay for the same work.
The jobs do not have to be identical, but they must be substantially the same. That is, it is the content of the job (not the job titles) that determines whether the jobs are substantially the same.
If we look at the conclusions of the extraordinary report “How to make jobs work for Latinas”, prepared by UnidosUS, we find ourselves facing an unacceptable systematic violation of the law when it comes to the work of Latina women in the United States.
Below are some examples, but there are many more indicators that document workplace discrimination against Latina women:
- Latina workers are paid only 57 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men. In the last three decades, the wage gap for Latinas has only narrowed by 5 cents. Results: Almost 30% of households headed by Latinas live below the poverty level.
- Latina workers are overrepresented in low-wage jobs with more unpredictable jobs, schedules, and fewer workplace protections. Although they represent only 19% of the US population, Latinas represent 29.7% of service occupations.
- Latinas are disproportionately excluded from public welfare benefits due to immigration status or misinformation about eligibility.
- Latinas disproportionately lack access to workplace benefits. For example, only 18% of Latinas have an employer-sponsored retirement account (compared to 71% of white men).
All this despite the fact that Latina workers make up 12.6 million people in the workforce, which represents around 16% of the female workforce in the country.
And that Latinas are driving the growth of the United States, Latina entrepreneurs represent nearly half of all Latinos and create businesses six times faster than any other group in the United States. Since 2007, Latino ownership of companies has grown 87%.
That is, Latinas in general and Latina workers in particular have been, are and will increasingly be a key sector for economic growth and social cohesion in the United States.
This is an unacceptable situation that demands solutions not only from federal, state and local governments, but especially from private sector companies, many of which have large corporate responsibility departments, but do not pass the test when it comes to equal pay in the workplace.
At a time when there is appropriate emphasis in the public conversation in the United States on the importance of preserving legality when it comes to immigration policy, a similar emphasis and urgency must be applied to correcting the immoral wage and employment gap that holds Latinas in United States as second-class workers.