The federal Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying male and female employees unequally based on their sex. Enacted in 1963, the Equality Pay Act is a federal law that prohibits certain employers from engaging in sex-based wage discrimination. Employers who willfully violate the Equality Pay Act may face fines of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to six months, or both. Employees who have faced pay discrimination based on their sex are also entitled to their lost wages and equitable relief.
The skilled employment attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP have helped many clients enforce the provisions of the Equal Pay Act. We actively fight against employers who discriminate by paying some employees less based on their sex. Employees who perform jobs that require substantially equal effort, skill and responsibility under similar working conditions must be paid equally regardless of their sex. We have a comprehensive understanding of the Equality Pay Act and are familiar with the best ways to successfully seek compensation under the Act on behalf of our clients.
What Type of Sex-Based Discrimination Does the Equal Pay Act Prohibit?
The Equal Pay Act requires employers to pay men and women who are performing substantially equal work in the same workplace the same amount of compensation and fringe benefits. Equal payment constitutes more than hourly wages or salaries. Employers must offer men and women the same employee fringe benefits, to include bonuses, insurance, retirement plans, travel, reimbursements, and expense accounts.
How does a court determine whether a female and male employee are doing substantially equal work? Courts look at the actual job requirements of employees, not merely at the employee’s job title or job description. In other words, a court will examine what each employee does in their job on a day-to-day basis. Employers might attempt to change an employee’s job description or job title or add extra duties to their job description that the employee doesn’t do. Nonetheless, if a male and female actually perform substantially similar work activities, the employer must pay them equally, regardless of their job titles or job descriptions.
Exceptions to the General Equal Pay Act Provisions
Employers may legally pay male and female employees who do substantially equal work differently when one of the following exceptions happen:
- The pay differences are due to the employer making reasonable accommodations to an injured or disabled employee
- The employees have different abilities, experience, or education levels
- The employer pays an employee more based on shift differentials; an employer may pay an employee more when he or she chooses to work on a less desirable shift
- The employer pays one employee more based on bona fide merit
- The employer pays one employee more based on seniority
- The employer pays one employee more based on an incentive system
Employers might claim that they are paying a female employee less than a male employee based on one of the legitimate exceptions listed above. At Lipsky Lowe LLP, our attorneys can thoroughly investigate your sex-based wage discrimination claim. We can help you determine whether your pay gap results from a legitimate exception to the Equal Pay Act. If an employer is relying on an exception to the Equal Pay Act that isn’t legitimate, you may be able to take legal action against your employer.
The Benefits of Seeking Redress Under the Equal Pay Act
A victim of sex-based wage discrimination may file a claim under the Civil Rights Act or the Equal Pay Act. Seeking redress for unequal wages under the Equal Pay Act is beneficial for several reasons. The Equal Pay Act does not require wage discrimination victims to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Instead, employees may file a complaint in federal court directly under the Equal Pay Act. By contrast, employees who file claims under the Civil Rights Act must file an EEOC claim before filing a complaint in federal court.
The statute of limitations for filing a claim is longer than the statute of limitations for a Civil Rights Act claim. Those submitting a complaint under the Civil Rights Act may have as few as 180 days to file a claim with the EEOC to preserve his or her right to sue in federal court. Employees filing a lawsuit have up to two years to file a federal lawsuit. Claimants must file a lawsuit within two years of the employer’s first act of sex-based gender discrimination. If the employer willfully imposed sex-based wage discrimination, the employee has three years in which to file a federal lawsuit.
Compensation and Redress Under the Equal Pay Act
Plaintiffs who succeed in an Equal Pay Act claim are entitled to the amount of their unpaid minimum wages or overtime compensation. If you’re successful, your employer must pay you the difference in your pay and the pay of your coworker of the opposite sex. If your employer pays your coworker of the opposite sex $30 per hour and pays you $20 per hour for the same job, you are entitled to receive $10 per hour for the hours you worked. You are also entitled to an equal amount of liquid or cash damages. Finally, you may be entitled to equitable relief, such as:
- Reinstatement to your position
- A promotion
- A raise in your salary or hourly wage
- Re-hiring, if your employer terminated your employment
- Payment for reasonable attorney cost and fees
If You Have An Issue Regarding The Equal Pay Act – Contact Our NYC Employment Attorney
You work hard daily at your job, and your employer should not pay you less than other employees based on your sex. Our Equal Pay Act attorneys fight hard every day for the rights of our clients. Our attorneys can fight for your right to receive compensation and equitable relief under the Equal Pay Act. Contact our New York City employment law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.