Minority women face racial and gender discrimination at work

Since 1963, when the Equal Pay Act became law in the United States, employers in Tennessee have had a legal obligation to pay men and women the same amount of money for the same work. Reality has fallen far short of that goal. Women persistently earn lower pay than their male counterparts for the same jobs do, and the pay gap is even higher for African American, Latina and Native American women. The general counsel for the National Women's Law Center attributed the lower pay for minority women to the people running companies. They lack awareness of the issue and fail to enforce employment laws meant to counteract discrimination.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has publicly acknowledged that race exacerbates gender discrimination for women. She said that companies might think that their strategies for hiring more women will include more minority women, but it does not work out that way. The technology sector has a poor record of hiring minority women. Less than 10 percent of the employees at Apple, Google, Pinterest or Lyft are minority women.

Research about hiring practices has revealed that employers call white applicants for interviews 36 percent more often than African Americans with equivalent qualifications. Latinos fare a little better, but their white counterparts still get job interviews 24 percent more often.

In addition to workplace discrimination, employees too often suffer mistreatment by employers who want to ignore wage and hour laws. Refusing to pay minimum wage or overtime or denying their workers breaks also negatively impacts a person's income. An individual who wants to know how to confront an employer about pay disparities could consult an attorney. A lawyer could examine payroll records and document violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Armed with this information, an attorney could pursue a settlement for unpaid wages.

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