Response to Questions Related to Comparable Worth and Sex-Based Wage Discrimination

GGD-85-40: Published: Mar 1, 1985. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO answered a series of questions concerning the effectiveness of the comparable worth concept in identifying and remedying sex-based wage discrimination. Specifically, GAO was asked: (1) whether there is any current law affecting federal pay or classification which differentiates on the basis of sex; (2) how the comparable worth concept was treated during debate on the 1963 Equal Pay Act; (3) whether the gender of private sector employees is considered when determining the pay rates of federal employees; (4) what personal statistics influence individual earnings; and (5) whether two job evaluation experts can reach different conclusions about an identical job ranking.

GAO found that: (1) there is no current statute which uses gender to differentiate between employees; (2) Congress rejected language requiring equal pay for comparable work in favor of the equal work standard currently contained in the act; (3) consideration is not given to the gender of private sector employees in federal pay surveys; (4) individual characteristics are not considered in job evaluations, but rather, job characteristics are evaluated; and (5) since evaluation systems are subjective, it is possible for two evaluation experts to arrive at different conclusions.

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