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Is there a gender-based wage gap in Pennsylvania?

Although states are free to set their own minimum wage laws, U.S. Department of Labor data confirms that Pennsylvania’s is at the same level as the federal minimum wage.

However, there’s a big difference between minimum wage standards and equal pay. According to data from the National Women’s Center, Pennsylvania ranks 40th in the nation for a gender-based pay gap.

That statistic may not come as a surprise to at least one local storeowner. The art prints, ceramics and textiles store recently made the news for an unusual store policy: It offers a 24 percent discount only to its female customers. Men are required to pay full price.

With so much of the country’s industries relying on services and technology, it seems hard to fathom how employers could continue to compensate similarly situated employees differently on account of gender. Discriminatory rationales such as family planning should be regarded as obsolete in the wake of federal employment laws like the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as its state counterpart.

Under the FMLA, employers are required by law to give employees time off for certain family events. The right to such unpaid leave accrues in a 12-month period and can be used for events including the birth of a child, caring for a spouse or other immediate family member, and personal, serious health conditions.

However, the vesting calculation under the FMLA can be complex. In addition, employees should be mindful that other employment laws might offer concurrent protections. For example, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a federal law that makes it unlawful for an employer to take adverse employment actions on the basis of an employee’s pregnancy. The act further provides that pregnancy should be regarded as a temporary disability if it prevents a worker from performing her job duties due to a medical condition.

To understand all of the rights to which you might be entitled in the workplace, check out our firm’s employment law website.

Source: CBS Philly, “Pa. Shop Offers Discount – But Only To Women!” April 27, 2015

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