April 10th, 2013

Twin Cities’ readers may not have realized that April 9 was Equal Pay Day. Started in 1996 by a coalition of civil rights organizations called the National Committee on Pay Equity, the day provides an opportunity both for reflection and looking ahead.

According to the NCPE, pay equity between the genders finally achieved equality, on average, since the start of 2012. Minnesotans can take extra pride on this day, as Minnesota has been a pioneer in ending gender discrimination, at least in terms of compensation. Specifically, state government employment has required equal pay for equal work since 1982. In the case of Minnesota county and municipal government employers, pay equality became codified in 1984.

However, that’s not to say that pay equality was immediately achieved in Minnesota’s government workplaces after the provisions were codified in 1982 and 1984. In fact, one source reports that pay equity was not fully achieved in the state until 2010.

Before the laws were passed, Minnesota lawmakers and advocates studied systemic gender discrimination for six years in various state and local governments. Using the Hay job evaluation system, researchers graded various positions using a points factor, and then examined hiring, promotion, compensation and other material employment actions among equally scored positions.

Yet disparity in compensation may still exist in the private sector, perhaps accompanied by other forms of gender or sex discrimination. A 2011 report found that Minnesota women working in the private sector averaged only 80 cents to every dollar earned by a similarly situated male counterpart.

Source: startribune.com, “Minnesota’s pay equity achievement,” April 8, 2013.

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