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Celebrities at award shows may make the headlines by calling for equal pay for the work they do. However, in their glamor and spotlights, they may not speak for you. While Hollywood has brought to light many important issues, ultimately, you are the one whose paycheck is less than your male counterparts.

In fact, actors have been using their podiums to call for equal pay for some time. Nevertheless, the gender gap has not changed in the past several years. You may feel like it is a futile fight, but this is not necessarily true. If you believe your employer pays you less because you are a woman, you have the right to seek a just wage through the civil courts.

What are the statistics?

You are not alone. The most recent studies show that women, especially women of color, earn about 82 cents for every dollar a man earns in a comparable job. This is reportedly due to several factors, including employers' negative opinions of working mothers and racial prejudices, among other reasons. Statistically, Hispanic women earn just over half of the income white men in the same position may take home. Black women may earn 62% of a man's pay and white women about 79%.

Working in California has its advantages, however. This state has the highest gender pay ratio, so women here may earn as much as 89% of a man's salary. However, you may agree that anything less than 100% is unjust and unlawful. In the course of a career, this could add up to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages simply because of your gender.

Justifying injustice

You may think back to your job interview or the application you completed to get that interview. Did your future employer ask you what salary you made in your previous job? This is one way in which employers excuse offering a lower wage. Since you likely received an unfairly low wage in your previous position, that cycle continues in your new job. You may work for unfair pay for years without knowing if your employer forbids you from discussing your salary with other workers.

Your situation may be even more complicated if you work in a traditionally male-dominated industry, such as technology, construction or finance. However, even roles that are traditionally held by women, such as nurses or teachers, may earn you less money simply because you are not a man. If you are in such a situation, you would be wise to reach out for legal advice for finding a way to eliminate the pay gap.

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