Alabama Law Hosts Symposium on Gender Inequality

April 17, 2018

Legal scholars visited The University of Alabama School of Law April 13 to discuss gender inequality.

The symposium on Gender Inequality after 55 Years of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 recognized the broader goals of the Equal Pay Act, celebrated the successes achieved since its enactment, and invited leading scholars to lay the foundation in the fight for gender equality.

“The Equal Pay Act commanded that material compensation be based on ability and merit, for the most part, and it implied a promise of equality of economic opportunity to complement the 19th Amendment’s political opportunity,” Dean Mark E. Brandon said during his introduction.

More than a half century after the enactment, the gender wage gap continues to be a stark reality for many—particularly women of color and transgender people. With those realities in mind, the editors of the Alabama Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Law Review invited scholars who could address gender inequality in broad terms.

Stephanie Bornstein, Associated Professor of Law at the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College, examined the legal implications of framing pay discrimination as a violation of minimum labor standards under the Fair Labor Standards Act, rather than as an infringement on civil rights under Title VII.

Mary Anne Case, the Arnold I. Shure Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, used modern examples to analyze the potential application of Title IX to the performing arts. She provided reasons why Title VII and the Equal Pay Act may not provide solutions and why Title IX could provide some relief.

Andrea Ritchie, Researcher-in-Residence on Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Criminalization at the Social Justice Institute of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, provided statistics, examples, and court cases to show how a lack of income equality and high poverty and homelessness rates render women quite vulnerable to criminalization and police violence, noting that mass incarceration and criminalization have driven women further into poverty despite progress on the wage front.

Adam Romero, Director of Legal Scholarship and Federal  Policy, and the Arnold D. Kassoy Scholar of Law at The Williams Institute, explored the most recent research of employment discrimination against sexual and gender minorities, the possible effects on their health from that discrimination, and how the courts and other agencies have interpreted anti-sex discrimination statutes.