Articles Posted in Sex Discrimination

Unequal pay between men and women is well-documented. From sports to the entertainment industry to medicine, the pay gap spans numerous professions. Studies also reveal that pay in traditionally male-dominated occupations can become depressed when women enter certain professions in large numbers. Overall, research by the American Association of University Women shows that women in the United States are paid about 20% less than their male counterparts. The wage disparity in Massachusetts is only slightly better with female employees receiving approximately 82% of the compensation of their male colleagues.

Massachusetts was the first state in the country to pass legislation, as codified under M.G.L. c. 149, §105A, mandating equal pay among men and women for “work of comparable character or work on comparable operations.” Since then, the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) has undergone several revisions and judicial interpretation. Prior to the most recent revision signed into law on August 1, 2016, and as testimony by Attorney General Maura Healey in support of its passage shows, MEPA has long been criticized as a statute without teeth.

Aside from cases involving direct or “smoking gun” evidence, which is rare, proving an employment discrimination claim is often nuanced and accomplished through the use of circumstantial evidence. As the Supreme Court in Rogers v. Missouri Pacific has long recognized, such evidence can even be the most powerful of the two:

Circumstantial evidence is not only sufficient, but may also be more certain, satisfying and persuasive than direct evidence.