Although federal law requires women to receive equal treatment to men in the workplace, many still notice a gender-related wage gap. The nonprofit Equal Pay Today reports that according to United States Census data, American women earn an average of 88 cents on the dollar to male earnings for the same job in 2020.

If you are a woman affected by unequal pay in the workplace, you have options.

Get the facts

Transparency about salaries can help eliminate wage discrimination. Federal law prohibits policies that forbid nonsupervisory employees from discussing their salaries. The company cannot legally discipline you for asking a male colleague what he earns.

Gather evidence

Before approaching your supervisor about the discrepancy, make sure you can show that you are truly on the same level as male coworkers who earn higher salaries. You should provide details about how long you have been with the company, how many years of industry experience you have and your responsibilities. Employers can legally pay increased wages to some employees based on their increased value to the business.

Consider your options

If you have a strong case for equal or greater value than your counterpart, you may be able to negotiate an equal salary with human resources and your manager. If negotiations are unsuccessful, however, you may consider filing a discrimination lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances of your situation, the judge may award compensatory damages and punitive damages. If your employer let you go over the wage issue, the court can order your reinstatement and require the firm to pay back wages.

You may also file an Equal Pay Act complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You can do so online, in person, by phone or by mail, but you only have 180 calendar days from the date on which you learned of the equal pay violation. The EEOC will investigate your claim and schedule a follow-up interview with you.