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Equal Pay Act Claims

Attorneys Fighting For Fair And Equal Pay

Employees have the right not to face discrimination in their compensation based on their race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, age, and other protected class status. These rights are protected under several federal laws, including: the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“EPA”), Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). You may have an equal pay claim if you have found yourself doing internet searches for:
  • I am being paid less because I’m a woman.
  • I am making less money than men doing the same job.
  • My job gives men higher salaries than women in the same position.
  • I am being paid less because I’m Black.
  • I earn less than White workers because I’m African American.
  • I’ve been with the company for 25 years, but they are paying new hires more.
  • My boss pays younger workers with less experience more than me.
  • I get paid less because I’m Hispanic.
  • I want to sue for employment discrimination.
  • I have a lower base pay because I am Arab.
  • Why am I being paid less than others for doing the same job?
  • How do I get equal pay for equal work?
  • My boss discriminates against me by paying me less.
  • As a woman, am I entitled to equal pay for doing the same job as a man?

Depending on the reason that you are being paid less than someone outside your protected class will determine which law may apply to your claims. Consider the following employment pay laws:

The Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act provides that men and women employees must be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. While the jobs performed by the male and female employees do not need to be identical, those jobs must be substantially equal. The EPA also focuses on the job’s content and the function of the employee to determine whether jobs are substantially equal. As such, employers cannot avoid their obligations under the Equal Pay Act by assigning different titles for the same jobs. Specifically, the Equal Pay Act provides: “No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section 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.”

Each of these factors has been analyzed by both federal and Ohio courts. Let’s consider each individually:

Skill: Skill is measured by factors such as the experience, ability, education, and training required in performing the job. The focus is on the skills that are required to perform the job, and not skills that an individual employee may have that are unrelated to the job. For example, two accounting positions would be considered equal under the Equal Pay Act even if one of the accountants had obtained a master’s degree in history since that master’s degree is not required for the position.

Effort: Effort is defined as the level of physical and mental exertion required needed to perform the job amount of physical or mental exertion to perform the job. To be significant under the analysis, extra effort must be substantial and a regular part of the job. For example, where the person at the middle of an assembly line need only adjust a bolt, while the person at the end of an assembly line is also required to move the product after completing the assembly to a different platform as part of the job duties, the end of the line job requires more effort. Under this example, it would not be a violation of the EPA to pay that end of the line employee more.

Responsibility: Responsibility is defined for the purpose of the Equal Pay Act as the degree of accountability required in performing the job. For example, an employee who is given the extra duty of having the keys to open the shop every day has more responsibility than other store employees. However, a minor difference in responsibility, such as turning on or off the lights at the beginning or end of the day would not be a significant difference in responsibility justifying a pay differential under the Equal Pay Act.

Working Conditions: Under the Equal Pay Act, working conditions address two factors: (1) physical surroundings such as temperature, fumes, and ventilation; and (2) hazards.

Establishment: The Equal Pay Act applies only to jobs worked by employees in the same establishment, which is typically defined as a physical location rather than an entire business or enterprise consisting of several locations for the business. The EPA also provides exceptions “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.” These exceptions are affirmative defenses under the Equal Pay Act, which means that the employer has the burden under the law to prove that any one of these exceptions applies to the particular facts of the case. Under the EPA, an employer cannot correct a pay differential by reducing the pay of higher-paid employees. Instead, the employer must increase the pay of the lower-paid employee to match that of the higher-paid employees.

Title VII, ADEA, And ADA

Title VII, the ADEA, and the ADA prohibit compensation discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, age, and/or disability. There are two important distinctions between the requirements of these statutes and those contained in the Equal Pay Act: (1) Title VII, the ADEA, and the ADA do not require that the employee’s job be substantially equal to that of the higher paid employee, and (2) Title VII, the ADEA, and the ADA do not require the employee to work in the same establishment as the higher paid employee. Instead, like other discrimination claims under these laws, the focus is on whether the employees are being treated differently, at least in part, because of their status in a protected class.

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Questions Around Equal Pay

If you don’t think you’re getting fairly compensated at work, here are a few questions you may be asking yourself:

What Is Included In Equal Pay?

Equal Pay Act Claims Attorney: In addition to wages, the Equal Pay Act further requires employers to provide equal pensions, insurance coverage, profit sharing, vacation time, bonuses and the use of company equipment for equal work performed by employees.

Can An Employer Retaliate Against An Employee For Complaining About Unequal Pay?

Equal Pay Act Claims Attorney: No. Under all these employment discrimination laws, it is also unlawful to retaliate against any employee that opposes employment discriminatory compensation practices.

Are Only Other Minorities Protected For Equal Pay?

Equal Pay Act Claims Attorney: Title VII does not focus on the particular race, gender, religion, or national origin of the complaining employee, but is only concerned if a disparity is based on one of these classes. As such, a Caucasian employee would have a claim if an employer was paying Hispanic employees more because of race. However, the ADEA and the ADA do not prohibit treating non-disabled or younger employees worse. As such, an employer can pay disabled employees more than non-disabled employees.

Does The Equal Pay Act Only Protect Women?

Equal Pay Act Claims Attorney: Historically, the Equal Pay Act was originally enacted to correct unfair pay differential between men and women. However, several courts have held that the Equal Pay Act applies to protect men as well.

Can an Employee Ever Be Paid More For Equal Work?

Equal Pay Act Claims Attorney: As discussed above, the Equal Pay Act does allow for wage differentials if based on factors other than gender, including bona fide seniority or merit systems, bona fide occupational qualifications, or earnings systems based on production quantity or quality. However, for race, national origin, age, disability and other protected classes, the employer can pay more to any employee for any reason other than based on the protected classes or the employee engaging in protected activity.

If you’re even considering the possibility of facing pay discrimination, it’s important you talk to an attorney. Call today or send us an email to get started.

DISCLAIMER: These answers do not constitute legal advice or guidance.

Fight For What You’re Owed: Call The Right Attorney™

If you feel that you are being paid less based on your gender, sex, race, national origin, or age, then call the right attorney. It is never appropriate to discriminate by paying women, African Americans, or older workers less than their similarly situated counterparts. If you are facing unequal pay at work, call now to schedule a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL initial consultation with Spitz, The Employee's Law Firm.

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