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69 Iowa L. Rev. 655 (1983-1984)
Comparable Worth: Proving Sex-Based Wage Discrimination

handle is hein.journals/ilr69 and id is 675 raw text is: Comparable Worth: Proving
Sex-Based Wage Discrimination
Janice R. Bellace*
Ten years ago, the term comparable worth would have been mean-
ingless to most lawyers. The notion that sex-based wage discrimination
beyond the reach of the Equal Pay Act1 should be within the ambit of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act2 was first advanced less than five years
ago.3 This claim  sparked a fierce debate, not only on the merits of the
legal argument, but also on the correctness of the claim that predominantly
female jobs are often undervalued and underpaid.4 InJune 1981 the United
* Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Management, The Wharton School. B.A.
1971, J.D. 1974, University of Pennsylvania; M.Sc. 1975, London School of Economics.
1. Pub. L. No. 88-38, 77 Stat. 56 (codified at 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1) (1976)). The
Equal Pay Act is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
(1976 & Supp. III 1979). The Equal Pay Act provides in part:
No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall
discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed,
between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such
establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees
of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance
of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed
under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant
to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earn-
ings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any
other factor other than sex: Provided, That an employer who is paying a wage
rate differential in violation of this subsection shall not, in order to comply with
the provisions of this subsection, reduce the wage rate of any employee.
Id. § 206(d)(1) (1976).
2. Pub. L. No. 88-352, §§ 701-718, 78 Stat. 253-266 (1964), amended by Equal Employ-
ment Opportunity Act of 1972, Pub. L. No. 92-261, 86 Stat. 103 (current version at 42
U.S.C. §5 2000e-1 to -17 (1976 & Supp. III 1979)). The act provides in part:
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer-
(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to
discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, con-
ditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color,
religion, sex, or national origin; or
(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment
in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employ-
ment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because
of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 (1976).
3. For the seminal article, see Blumrosen, Wage Discrimination, Job Segregation, and
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 12 U. MICH. J.L. REF. 399 (1979).
4. The basic arguments on both sides are concisely presented in M. GOLD, A
DIALOGUE ON COMPARABLE WORTH (1983). For views supporting the comparable-worth
theory, see, e.g., Blumrosen, Wage Discrimination, Job Segregation, and Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 12 U. MICH. J.L. REF. 399 (1979), and the social science references

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