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Understanding the Equal Pay Act

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The perceived wage gap between men and women is a phenomenon frequently discussed in the news. A 2017 study published by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that women are typically paid about 90 percent of what men are paid until they reach 35 years old. Several federal laws exist to protect individuals from compensation discrimination in the workplace. One such law is the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Specifically, the Equal Pay Act protects against all classes of compensation including but not limited to regular salary, overtime pay, bonuses, commissions, life insurance, pension, vacation pay, stock options, profit sharing, and other business-related reimbursements and benefits.

Equal Compensation Under the Equal Pay Act

On the broadest level, the Equal Pay Act requires that men and women must be given equal pay for equal work they perform. This does not necessarily mean their job titles are identical. The most important factor to consider is the job responsibilities for the position. Specifically, the Equal Pay Act states that an employer must pay equal wages if two employees’ jobs require the employees to perform duties under similar working conditions that require substantially the same skills, responsibility and effort. These factors are further elaborated below:

  • Similar Working Conditions: This factor looks at a job’s physical environment (think hot stuffy factory versus air conditioned spacious office) and any hazards employees face.
  • Skill: In determining the skills required for a particular job, the Act looks specifically at factors required for the job, not skills that a given employee may happen to have that help them perform their job responsibilities.
  • Responsibility: The Act looks to any major differences in responsibility between any two jobs. For example, if one waiter is in charge of overseeing the activities of all the others, they would have a different level of responsibility than a waiter who is merely on the floor serving. However, a waiter who only takes orders compared to one who also cleans the tables likely would be seen as having a similar level of responsibility.
  • Effort: This factor considers the amount of physical or mental exertion expended in a given position.

Filing a Equal Pay Act Claim

Unlike some other employment discrimination actions, an individual seeking to file a claim under the Equal Pay Act may do so directly in court without first filing a charge with the EEOC. The time limit for filing a claim is within two years of the alleged unlawful compensation practice, or, if it was a willful violation of the Equal Pay Act, that time limit is extended to three years.

Contact Us Today for Assistance

If you believe your employer is engaging in compensation discrimination under the Equal Pay Act or other related discrimination law, you should contact the experienced Clearwater employment law attorneys at Dilla Employment Law, P.A. to discuss the merits of your claim. Contact us today for a consultation.

Resources:

eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/epa.cfm

aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

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