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State equal pay/comparable worth laws (e.g., Equal Pay Act)

Health Factors: Income
Decision Makers: State Government
Evidence Rating: Insufficient Evidence
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Equal Pay Act would strengthen remedies for violation of Fair Employment Law and authorize study of reasons for disparities in pay. Equal pay laws explicitly state that compensation for equal work can not differ based solely on gender, ethnicity, etc. Comparable worth laws seek to equalize pay for work of comparable worth between jobs held predominantly by women and jobs held predominantly by men.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced pay discrimination
Increased wages for women and other groups experiencing pay discrimination

Evidence of Effectiveness

Neumark 2006 found some evidence of positive effects of race discrimination laws on earnings of blacks relative to whites, but not on employment status.


United States

Comparable worth legislation has been introduced in several states focusing on state employees. The federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires men and women be paid equally for equal work. Thirty-nine states outlaw pay discrimination by sex; a few of these states also outlaw pay discrimination by factors like race, religion, ethnicity.


The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law §111.322 (1) states that it is violation of the law to refuse to hire, employ, admit or license any individual, to bar or terminate from employment or labor organization membership any individual, or to discriminate against any individual in promotion, compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of age (40+), race, creed, color, disability, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, arrest record, conviction record, military service or use of lawful products.

Citations - Evidence

Neumark 2006* - Neumark D, Stock WA. The labor market effects of sex and race discrimination laws. Economic Inquiry. 2006;44(3):385-419. Accessed on March 1, 2016

Page Last Updated

January 1, 2011

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