Best Ohio Gender Discrimination Attorney Answer: Do employment laws let my employer stop me from talking about how much I am paid with my co-workers? How can I prove that I am being paid less than men at my job? What should I do if my job is paying women less? Can my boss fire me for complaining about being paid less than men? How do I find a top wage lawyer in Ohio?
The Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) has been around now for over 50 years. Yet, even today, wage inequality still exist, as women on average still only earned 77 percent of what men earn for doing the same work. Why does such a wage gap still exist?
Experts cite a multitude of reasons for continuing wage disparity: deficiencies in the law, systemic and societal factors, and differences in the choices men and women make with respect to occupations, to name a few. Our employment discrimination lawyers believe that another factor is in play: the unspoken taboo that one should not share his or her wages with their co-workers. After all, how can someone pursue a claim for unequal pay if they never know that they are being paid unequally?
This goes to just how an employee is supposed to prove violations of the Equal Pay Act. To establish a violation, employees must show (1) that his or her employer is subject to the Act; (2) that he or she performed work in a position requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions; and (3) that he or she was paid less than the employees of the opposite sex providing the comparison. Importantly, the person the employee is comparing themselves to must be an actual person, rather than hypothetical.
Once the employee has established a prima facie case, the employer can rebut it with a variety of affirmative defenses, such as that the discrepancy is the result of (1) seniority, (2) merit, (3) quantity or quality of production, or (4) another differential based on a factor other than gender. Once the employer has asserted their affirmative defense, it then falls on the employee to show that the offered reason is actually pretext.
Can your employer prohibit you from talking about wages? Well, maybe.
Most people not realize that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) not only applies to unionized workplaces but to non-unionized workplaces in some regards. Those employees that are not part of a union also are protected by the NLRA to engage in what is called “concerted activity.” In plain English, concerted activity means an instance where two or more employees act together for their mutual benefit or protection regarding their terms and conditions of employment. According to the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), this includes “two or more employees addressing their employer about improving their pay.” Thus, it is a violation of the NLRA for your boss to enforce a “secrecy policy” about wages. The problem is that this law has no real bite. There is no civil cause of action – which means you cannot file a lawsuit based on the violation of this employment law. The only thing that you can do is can contact a regional office of the NLRB and file a complaint, which the NLRB “may” investigate and initiate a case (not a lawsuit) against your employer. And, then even if the NLRB finds that your employer violated this law, there are only nominal remedies for pack pay and possible re-employment. So, there is that, for what it is worth.
As far as civil litigation goes, Ohio is an at-will employment state. Thus, an employer can technically take an adverse employment action against someone, to include termination, for any reason, or no reason at all. So if that includes telling your co-workers what you make, so be it. In fact, according to a recent survey by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 19 percent of employees’ workplaces formally prohibit discussing wages and salaries, while another 31 percent said talking about pay is discouraged.
Perhaps recognizing this problem, President Obama recently issued two executive orders addressing equal pay and wage transparency. The first order will prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their salaries, and the second order will create new regulations requiring federal contractors to report salary summary data to the government, including sex and race breakdowns.
Of course, congressional Republicans have spoken out about these executive orders. Republicans have argued that wage inequality is a “myth” and further, that the President’s actions will only result in “more lawsuits.” However, these arguments are not only inconsistent (if pay inequality were a myth there wouldn’t be more lawsuits) but they actually underscore the need for such laws. The fact of the matter is that lawsuits do not occur in a vacuum, and if there are no violations, there will not be any lawsuits. The fact that Republicans acknowledge that more transparency about pay in the workplace will result in more lawsuits is at least a tacit admission that the law will help uncover wage inequality.
For now, the President’s order only applies to federal contractors and subcontractors. While this will have a wide reach, it will not apply to everyone. However, if it is successful in preventing unequal pay, it will serve as a model for future legislation.
If you any questions about the Equal Pay Act, or think you or believe that your employer is paying you less than males who perform the same job or otherwise improperly, your best option is to call the attorneys at the Spitz law firm today for a free and confidential initial consultation.
If you feel that you are being discriminated based on your gender or sex, then call the right attorney. It is never appropriate to discriminate against female employees. Discrimination against women includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied a promotion, and denied wages or not receiving equal pay. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040, you will meet with an attorney from the Spitz law firm to discuss wrongful discrimination claims and help you determine the best way to pursue your gender/sex discrimination claims.
The materials available at the top of this page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to gender discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of the Spitz law firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.