Detroit Equal Pay Act Violations Attorneys
Federal laws ensure the rights of workers to be free from discrimination in the workplace based on race, religion, gender, national origin, disability, pregnancy, and other attributes. Many of these well-known protections have been in effect for decades. Even so, violations still occur.
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) is one such protection. It became law in 1963 as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act and sought to end wage disparities based on gender and guaranteed equal pay for equal work. The EPA established that men and women who perform substantially similar jobs must not be compensated differently.
Gender Pay Disparities
The gap between the earning potential of men and women is well documented. Unfortunately, despite the protections offered by the EPA and similar legislation, women still make an average of 77 percent less than men. That amount is even lower for women of color.
The differences between the earning potential of men and women exist in every industry, even ones that are traditionally dominated by women.
What is Equal Work?
Equal jobs need not be exactly the same. The EPA requires that the work be substantially similar in content and performed in the same establishment. Equal work requires similar:
- Skill — The education, training, ability, and experience needed to do the job.
- Effort — The amount of exertion, either mental or physical, expected in the role.
- Responsibility — The degree of personal accountability involved in the job.
- Conditions — The physical environment, like temperature conditions or ventilation, and hazards, such as chemical exposure, encountered on the job.
- Establishment — Work must be performed at the same establishment, which is the physical place of business, not an entire company if it has multiple locations.
Job titles are not considered when determining if positions are equal.
Exceptions to the Equal Pay Act
Sometimes, pay discrepancies between men and women who do equal work are allowed. These are called affirmative defenses, and they include things like varying educations or experience, merit, production, or seniority —anything not solely based on gender.
Violations of the Equal Pay Act
When an employer is discriminatory in its compensation practices, there could be a violation of rights under the EPA. “Compensation” refers not only to wages but also to benefits such as overtime, bonuses, insurance, profit sharing, vacation time, hotel accommodations, and travel expenses.
Potential gender-based pay discrimination situations may extend beyond salary or dollars-per-hour rates. A man being paid more than a woman who does equal work, or vice versa, simply because the company pays one sex more than another would be an obvious EPA foul. However, gender disparities involving benefits also violate the act.
In 2018, there were 1,066 EPA violation complaints made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the government agency that oversees the EPA and handles violation claims. Of those, 257 were resolved in favor of the person who made the complaint.
Unlike other employment rights laws, claims of discrimination under the EPA do not need to be first filed with the EEOC to go to court. If an employer is suspected of having used gender as a determining factor in compensation, a complaint should be filed as soon as possible. There is a two-year statute of limitations for EPA claims that begins upon the discovery of the discrepancy in pay.
Employers found to have violated the EPA will potentially be held responsible for back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and other penalties or requirements that will rectify the violation of rights.
Sommers Schwartz Can Help
Cases involving gender-based pay disparities are often complicated, and this makes fighting such a violation of rights difficult. Speak to an experienced employment law attorney who can gather the evidence needed to support a claim.
The employment attorneys at Sommers Schwartz are among the most experienced in Detroit, routinely representing employees and employers in cases involving all types of discrimination before the EEOC, in courtroom litigation, and advising clients in everyday situations on the job.
Sommers Schwartz employee rights lawyers will thoroughly investigate any alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act and craft an expert case on behalf of those wronged at work.
Contact a Sommers Schwartz attorney today to confidentially discuss your case and learn how we can help.