While lawyers and judges are the ultimate legal experts, of course, I believe that every citizen should take the time to learn a little about law for several reasons. First, it is important to know your rights, and knowing them can come in handy if anyone ever accuses you of a crime you didn't commit or threatens you legally in another other way. Second, learning about your local, state, and federal laws can help you act as a better citizen. When election time comes around, you can then truly understand ever change in law being proposed by a candidate and whether it benefits society or not. I plan to share posts about law topics explained in plain English on my new blog, so you can come back often to sharpen your legal knowledge!
Equal pay for equal work is a contentious issue between workers and employees. That's especially the case when an employer appears to be providing unequal pay on the basis of sex, race, disability, or age.
It's reasonable to wonder, though, whether your claim stands a good chance of success. The following examines several things that often factor into equal pay cases.
Covered Forms of Compensation
A wide range of types of compensation are covered by the two dominant laws that cover pay equality. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires employers to avoid wage discrimination based on sex, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against other protected classes.
Covered basic compensation types include salaries, hourly wages, overtime pay, vacation and holiday pay, and bonuses. The concept of compensation also extends to benefits, life insurance, travel and cleaning allowances or reimbursements, per diems, and the quality of travel accommodations.
Same Work Location
Generally, the law allows employers to provide different pay scales for workers in different locations. For example, a tech firm with employees in a high-cost city like San Francisco can pay people more for like-kind work than they would an employee in a much cheaper city.
The core of the issue is equal pay for equal work, but what makes work equal? Department of Labor guidelines look at jobs in terms of equal skills, effort, responsibilities, and working conditions. For example, an employer can pay someone more for the same job if it is performed in a significantly hotter part of a factory. Likewise, an employee who is responsible for closing up a shop may get a pay bump for the added duties.
American law is focused on the substantial equality of two employees' positions. Notably, this bars employers from hiding behind cosmetic differences, such as assigning different job titles to two substantially similar positions.
Similarly, minor distinctions between two jobs rarely distinguish them. If two people are working in the graphics department of a website design firm, for example, the slight differences between the projects they handle are likely insufficient to treat them differently.
Documentation and Discovery
Lawyers typically tackle equal pay cases through documentation. This means presenting data that shows how two substantially equal employees are paid differently. Fortunately, the discovery process allows your attorney to obtain information from the defendant regarding the classification and treatment of positions and employees.