Sex Discrimination Attorneys in New York Help Enforce Equal Pay Laws
Our gender discrimination lawyers representing clients in New York, understand that the workplace should be a zone where people receive fair and equal treatment. Congress has passed many laws over the years to ensure that in the area of compensation, people receive equal pay for equal work. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that oversees the enforcement of some of these laws including the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, religion, disability, age, and other protected characteristics. These factors should not form the basis for any employment decision. An employment decision includes hiring, firing, training and compensating an individual. For example, under Title VII, the decision not to hire an African-American man for a front of house position in a restaurant may be unlawful racial discrimination. The decision to pay a woman less money than a man with the same job may be unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Sexual harassment in the workplace is also sex discrimination under the provisions of Title VII.
The Equal Pay Act is a law that addresses gender or sex discrimination that occurs specifically when an employer pays male and female employees unequally – they receive different amounts for the same work. According to a recent Forbes report, women still earn, on average, less than 80% of what men earn. To put that in relatable terms, for every ten dollars a man earns, a woman earns less than eight. When an employer discriminates against an employee, violating the EPA and/or Title VII, the victim has the right to pursue monetary compensation and remedies such as reinstatement to a position by filing a claim with the EEOC and pursuing a case in a court of law. There are occasions when claims of unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII and violations of the EPA overlap. But the EPA has a set of rules, definitions, and evidentiary requirements that are distinct from the provisions of Title VII.
Our attorneys have spent decades representing employees and helping pursue claims against their employers for decisions and actions that violate their workplace rights. If you think you have been the victim of gender discrimination under the Equal Pay Act or Title VII, consider giving us a call to find out more about your rights to recover damages.
Our New York employment discrimination lawyers take a team-based, hands-on approach to all matters which translates into personal, responsive, high-quality representation. We can help you hold your employer responsible when you experience unequal treatment. Our track record of successful settlements and verdicts demonstrates the strong commitment we have to advocate for victims of gender discrimination.
What Does the Equal Pay Act Say? Equal Work=Equal Pay
The EPA states that “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…”
Employees performing equal work within the same business establishment must receive equal pay. “Pay” does not just mean salary or hourly rate. It includes all terms of compensation such as:
- Health insurance
- Life insurance
- Profit sharing
- Expense reimbursement
Note that the jobs do not have to be the same to require equal pay. The jobs must be substantially equal.
Different Job Title is Not Different Work
Experienced gender discrimination attorneys in New York, know that assigning different job titles is the main way employers try to avoid the rules of the EPA. By giving men and women different job descriptions and titles, it appears that they do not have to receive the same pay because they do not do the same work. However, the EPA requires that you conduct an analysis of the SUBSTANCE of the work performed, not the titles or job descriptions. The analysis must include a review of the effort, responsibility, and skill involved in the jobs. Consider the following example:
A man has a job with the title of “Sales Team Manager, ” and he earns a yearly salary of $38,000. In his job description, it says he is responsible for a sales team. He has weekly team meetings, runs, and analyzes daily reports, reviews them with the company president, conducts performance reviews, hires, and fires team members, trains them, sets their goals, and assigns their sales territories.
A woman has a job as a “Senior Sales Associate” for the same company. She works in the same building, but her office is on another floor. Her job description requires her to “supervise” sales staff which she does, performing nearly all of the same tasks as the manager above, including overseeing a team of sales people, running reports, holding meetings, training, hiring and firing. She earns an annual salary of $30,000.
Despite their different job titles, it appears that the female employee is earning less money for work that is within the same establishment, under the same working conditions and substantially equal to that of her male colleague. Her employer may be in violation of the EPA.
Factors Considered in an Equal Pay Act Claim
What do the EEOC and courts use to decide if you have a valid claim of pay discrimination? What determines if work is equal? When examining the similarities of jobs under the EPA, there are five factors that receive strong consideration. They are:
- Skill – includes experience, ability, education, and training needed for the job.
- Effort – includes how much physical or mental exertion is needed to perform the job
- Responsibility – how much accountability is part of the job?
- Working Conditions – includes physical surroundings like temperature, fumes, noise as well as the presence of hazards
- Establishment – jobs must be within the same establishment which means within a “distinct, physical place of business” as opposed to part of an entire enterprise consisting of several places of business.
Are There Exceptions to the Equal Pay Act?
There are times men and women may receive different compensation when it does not violate the EPA. If an employer can demonstrate they have a bona fide merit system, seniority system or a way of measuring earnings by quality or quantity of production, unequal payments may be lawful. Also, if an employer can prove that a bonafide qualification other than gender is the basis for the differential, they may have a solid defense to an employee’s EPA claim.
If you are the recipient of unequal, unlawful treatment in the workplace, contact our attorneys who understand the various laws that may apply to your claim. You may have a Title VII claim for sex discrimination in addition to or instead of a claim under the EPA for equal pay violations. You may also have rights under New York’s Women’s Equality Act. It is imperative that you understand your rights under every law before you proceed to protect your rights. We can help ensure that you proceed in a way that gives you the best chance for success. You may be entitled to back pay and other monetary damages that reflect the injuries you have suffered.
Our gender discrimination lawyers have devoted decades to helping employees secure equal rights in New York. We love what we do, and it’s evident in the passionate way we represent our clients. Contact us today at 1-800-585-4658 for a free case evaluation and to find out if you have a sex discrimination claim. Someone is here to answer your call 24/7.