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Gender pay disparity still exists in Minnesota's workplaces

Income inequality based on gender may still be an issue in Minnesota's workplaces, based on information contained in the Census Bureau's 2012 American Community Survey. The survey compared the median incomes of employed women with their male counterparts. In Minnesota, that income ratio is 68 cents to every dollar earned by a male employee.

Yet Minnesota is typical of a nationwide earnings disparity. Even in the top 5 best states for income equality, women make only about three-fourths of what men make.

Some readers may be surprised by those findings, considering there are federal and state protections against gender or sex discrimination. For example, the Equal Pay Act is a federal law that makes discrimination in pay and benefits on the basis of sex illegal. Gender discrimination is also prohibited by Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as by the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

Due to those laws, employees rightfully expect that an employer's policies in the workplace will be equal between men and women. In other words, an employer in most cases is not permitted to use gender as a basis for decisions about hiring, compensation, layoffs, promotions, job training, working conditions, benefits, and other privileges.

If you are doing substantially equal work as another employee of the opposite sex but are being paid less, you may have a legal claim. Similarly, if you believe you have been treated unequally in the workplace on the basis of gender, an attorney can review the facts of your claim and advise you on the appropriate course of action, which may include a perquisite administrative claim filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Source: slate.com, "Gender income inequality by state and county," Chris Kirk, Oct. 18, 2012

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