The Equal Pay Act prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of gender. Signed into federal law in 1963, the Equal Pay Act was a big win for the women's rights movement at the time. Unfortunately, pay discrimination continues to be an issue in today's workplace, primarily for women who continue to be underpaid and undervalued compared to their male counterparts.
What Is Work Pay Discrimination?
While pay discrimination may affect either sex, it affects female employees most frequently. Studies show that women do not earn as much as men in the workplace, and that the gap in income often has nothing to do with differences in skill, experience, responsibility, or ability to perform the job.
Employee discussions about compensation are generally considered concerted activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act, but employers may still try to keep employees from discussing salary if there is an unjustifiable disparity in pay between male and female workers.
How Can I Prove Pay Discrimination?
Pay discrimination can be difficult to prove, and pay disparity may frequently be blamed on an employee's inability to negotiate his or her own value. To file a successful pay discrimination claim, an employee must prove that he or she is being paid less than employees of the opposite sex who are in equivalent positions based on one or more of the following:
- Skill: Do the employees have similar education, experience, training, and/or ability to perform the job required?
- Responsibility: Do the employees have the same level of accountability?
- Effort: Is the same level of physical or mental exertion required of both employees?
- Working conditions: Do the employees work in the same conditions with the same potential hazards?
Not all pay differences violate the Equal Pay Act. If an employer can prove that a difference in pay is based on one of the following “affirmative defenses,” a charge of pay discrimination may not be successful:
- Bonuses based on quality or quantity of work produced
- Differentials based on shifts or weekend work
If you believe you are not being paid fairly compared to coworkers of the opposite sex, the Atlanta employment lawyers at Barrett & Farahany, LLP may be able to help. Call us for a complimentary consultation to determine whether you have a strong case for pay discrimination under the Equal Protection Act.