What Is the Equal Pay Act of 1963? - Definition, History & Summary

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Shawn Grimsley

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is an important federal employment law that both employers and employees should know about. In this lesson, you will learn about the Act and be given some of the history behind it. You will also be provided an opportunity to reinforce your knowledge with a short quiz.

We also recommend watching Equal Pay Act: Definition and Effects and IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - History and Summary


The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires that employees be given equal pay for equal work regardless of sex. In other words, it is illegal for employers to pay women less than men for the same work or for men to be paid less than women for the same work.


The United States has a long history of pay inequality between men and women. Even today, studies have found that women are paid less than men when performing the same job. Efforts to enact a law to stop unequal pay based upon sex started during World War II, when women entered the workforce in large numbers as men were sent overseas to fight. However, it was not until 1963 that Congress was able to pass the Equal Pay Act.

Summary of Act

The Act makes paying women and men differently for the same work because of their respective sex illegal. The work doesn't have to be exactly the same, but it must be substantially equal. Titles don't matter; job content controls whether jobs are substantially equal. You have to consider the following factors in determining whether jobs are substantially equal:

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