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Paid Less Than A Man? Here’s What You Need To Do

by | Jan 11, 2023 | Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Equal Pay Act Claims, Gender Discrimination, Retaliation, Wrongful Termination |

What laws protect a woman’s right to equal pay?

Women’s rights to equal pay are protected under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”). Under both laws, employers must pay woman workers the same as their male counterparts when performing equal work that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility. In order to qualify for equal pay, the work assigned must also be performed under similar working conditions.

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Are there exceptions to equal pay requirements?

Yes. Under both the EPA and Title VII, employers are allowed to pay male workers more if they can show that the pay differential is based on one of the following: (a) a seniority system; (b) a structure that bases earnings on the quantity and/or quality of production; (c) a merit system; or (d) some factor other than gender.

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What should an employer do when an employee complains about an equal pay violation?

Take it seriously. Evaluate the claim and consult with a wage and hour attorney. If there is a problem, pay the owed back wages and fix the pay differential. If there is not a problem, take some time to sit with the employee and explain why the work is not equal; is being performed under different working conditions; or what exception applies and why. Open and honest communication will go a long way to avoiding legal issues.

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What should an employer not do when a female worker complains about an equal pay violation?

There are three primary things that an employer should not do when confronted with a potential gender based equal pay violation. First, do not do nothing. Doing nothing will not solve the problem and will only be later used as evidence that the employer’s conduct was willful. Second, the EPA specifically provides that employers cannot lower the pay of the men counterparts to make the pay equal. Doing so would only give claims to both the women and the men for the higher wage. Third, both the EPA and Title VII contain anti-retaliation provisions that make it unlawful for an employer to take an adverse action against an employee for reporting, opposing, or taking part in an investigation regarding gender discrimination or sex based wage inequities – which would include demoting, transferring to a less desirable position, denying promotion, and wrongful termination, as well as any other acts that would dissuade a reasonable employee from making a complaint.

Jerry’s Chevrolet Inc., and Jerry’s Motor Cars Inc. handled their situation poorly. According to reports, a female dispatcher complained to human resources (HR) that a male dispatcher was being paid at a higher hourly rate than she was. While HR promised to investigate, there is no indication that an investigation was done nor any corrective steps taken. Instead, just a week following the equal wage complaint, the employer fired the woman claiming that she used a singular profanity in the breakroom. In doing so, the employer conveniently forgot that a few months prior, a male employee engaged in far more offensive conduct and was only giving a written warning without firing him. This only provided more evidence of disparate treatment discrimination.

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What is my gender discrimination case worth?

Every case is different and will depend on a variety of factors both regarding the facts of the case, prior issues that the employer may have had, and the location of the case. Jerry’s ended up settled this case for $62,500.

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How do I know if I have an equal pay claim against my employer?

If you feel that your employer is paying you less than men for doing the same job or is discriminating against you because you are a woman, you need to call the right attorney. Our employee’s rights lawyers fight all forms of discrimination perpetrated against women, which can include being harassed, wrongfully fired, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied a promotion, and denied wages or not receiving equal pay. Our intake team will schedule a free and confidential consultation, you will meet with an attorney from Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm to discuss wrongful discrimination claims and help you determine the best way to pursue your gender/sex discrimination claims. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?).

Disclaimer:

The equal pay and gender discrimination materials available at the top of this equal wage and wrongful firing page and on this employment law website are to provide you with general information only and not for the purpose of providing direct or specific legal advice. If you are potentially facing gender or wage discrimination by the company where you work, your best choice is to contact an experienced gender discrimination attorney to obtain direct advice regarding your potential claims. 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.