Come on Iowa, You Can Do Better Than This. Pay Up!

Iowa is well-known for being the first in the nation to hold its presidential caucus.  Iowa is also winning national recognition as a great place to live.  Some might say Iowa is the new California?  Well . . . maybe not quite.  One area where Iowa is still woefully behind the times is when it comes to gender equality in pay. 

Recently, the Des Moines Register published an article revealing that on average Iowa women earn $10,637 less than Iowa men.  This is one of the nation’s wider gaps in pay, equaling 79 cents for every dollar a man earns!  Think this should be illegal?  It is.  And it has been since 1963 when John F. Kennedy was President. 

In 2009, Iowa enacted one of the best laws in the nation prohibiting discrimination in pay.  Under Iowa law, employers may not pay wages to an employee that are “less than the rate paid to other employees who are employed within the same establishment for equal work on jobs, the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.”  Notably different is that Iowa’s law does not just apply to employees of the opposite sex.  Rather, under Iowa law, employers may not discriminate in pay on the basis of age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, or disability (all characteristics protected by the Iowa Civil Rights Act).  

It’s not clear why there’s a lack of significant case law on Iowa’s equal pay act, despite it being state law for over six years.  Maybe female employees do not realize they’re being paid less for doing the same work as their male colleague?  Maybe the employer provides a justification that the employee finds credible?  Maybe employers are paying up when this is brought to their attention?  Or maybe employees fear retaliation by reporting? Whatever the reasons for the lack of case law, we here at Timmer & Judkins are here to help.

If you think you’re being paid less based on any of the above protected characteristics, please contact us.  Everyone deserves equal pay for equal work.

Author Brooke Timmer is a partner at Timmer & Judkins, P.L.L.C.

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