1963 June 10

President Kennedy Signs Equal Pay Act


The 1963 Equal Pay Act, signed into law by President Kennedy on this day, outlawed pay discrimination against women. For the first nine years, however, the law did not apply to executive, administrative, or professional employees; or to persons working as outside salespersons — in short, women in most white-collar, professional jobs.

Congress expanded equal pay for women with the 1972 Education Act, which expanded the coverage of the Equal Pay Act to professional-level positions.

The 1972 Education Act (June 23, 1972) is more famous for Title IX barring discrimination against women in school and college athletic programs.

President Kennedy: “I am delighted today to approve the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits arbitrary discrimination against women in the payment of wages. . . . the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job. This measure adds to our laws another structure basic to democracy. It will add protection at the working place to the women, the same rights at the working place in a sense that they have enjoyed at the polling place.”

Looking Back: The Equal Pay Act at 50: http://hnn.us/blog/152192

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