Gender Pay Equity in the #MeToo Era

Much has been written and said about the #MeToo Movement and its implications for em- ployers around the nation and in Colorado. Questions abound regarding how to handle sexual harassment allegations in the workplace in light of new emphasis on rooting out gender bias and abuse at work. Another long-simmering and related issue also merits attention by Colorado employers in light of existing laws and new state law trends: It has been widely reported that women earn less money than men for the same work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 full-time working women earned just 82 cents of every dollar earned by their male colleagues, across all professions.1

Several factors impact this disparity, and discussion of all of them is beyond the scope of this article. However, examples from the legal profession are illustrative of the problem. Across all positions in the legal field as of 2014, women earned 57% of every dollar earned by a man.2 For full-time female lawyers, the median pay in 2014 was 77.4% of the pay earned by their male counterparts.3 The gender pay gap between male and female lawyers persists regardless of whether the female takes time for family responsibilities or has no children.4

Female attorneys are also significantly more likely to take inactive status than their male counterparts over time.5 The accompanying charts demonstrate the precipitous decline of female lawyers actively engaged in the practice of law over time as compared to their male counterparts.6 The evidence shows that female lawyers consistently earn less than male lawyers and tend to leave the legal field earlier in their careers.

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