In passing the bill, Congress stated that sex discrimination:
• depresses wages and living standards for employees necessary for their health and efficiency;
• prevents the maximum utilization of the available labor resources;
• tends to cause labor disputes, thereby burdening, affecting, and obstructing commerce;
• burdens commerce and the free flow of goods in commerce; and
• constitutes an unfair method of competition.
The law provides in part that "[n]o employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section [section 206 of title 29 of the United States Code] shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs[,] the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex."
American women’s salaries have risen relative to men's since the EPA’s enactment, from 62.3% of men’s earnings in 1979 to 81.1% in 2018. The EPA’s equal pay for equal work goals have not been completely achieved, as demonstrated by the BLS data and Congressional findings.
In 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, permitting women to sue employers for unfair pay up to 180 days after receiving an unfair paycheck. On 29 January 2016, he signed an executive order obliging all companies with at least 100 employees to disclose the pay of all workers to the federal government, with breakdowns of pay by race, gender, and ethnicity. The goal is to encourage employers to give equal pay for equal work by increasing transparency.