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In Wisconsin workplaces, how much less do women earn than men?

Ever since the second presidential debate took place earlier this week, there has been a lot of buzz about the gender wage gap in America. As anyone who watched the debate knows, an audience member in the town hall asked the presidential candidates what they plan to do to enforce the right to fair pay if elected.

The candidates' answers garnered a lot of attention because this is not something the public has seen either party talk too much about during the campaign season; and the amount of public interest in the issue in the aftermath of the debate shows us that this is something that is concerning workers. Although, under federal law, women and men must receive equal pay for performing equal work, this is not always the case. In fact, a recent analysis suggests that here in Wisconsin women earn only 66 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts.

Under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, men and women who work for the same employer, doing the same work, must be compensated equally. This includes not only base pay but all forms of pay, including vacation and sick time, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing, health benefits and more.

However, due to sex discrimination, payroll mistakes and several other issues, on average women in the U.S. only make 77 percent of what men make for doing the same jobs.

Whether or not lawmakers choose to do something about the gender wage gap, women who believe they are being unfairly compensated in the workplace may be wise to seek legal counsel. In many cases, it may be possible to file a claim under the Equal Pay Act in order to correct the discrepancy and obtain back pay and damages. Such legal claims do have a short statute of limitations, so it is important not to put off seeking legal counsel.

Source: Slate, "Map Shows the Worst State for Women to Make Money," Chris Kirk, Oct. 18, 2012

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