Your Legal Rights at Work

Four Questions About The Equal Pay Act

by Lewis Hamilton

The Equal Pay Act essentially says that employers must pay male and female employees the same wage for the same type of work. It is designed to protect workers from getting paid unfairly simply because of their gender. Here are a few things you may want to know about the Equal Pay Act if you feel like you are not getting paid a fair wage. 

Are Men And Women Covered Under The Equal Pay Act?

Be aware that the Equal Pay Act is designed to cover all workers and is quite different from anti-discrimination laws that are designed to protect a specific class of people that are considered a minority due to their race and age. This means that men and women can file a lawsuit for not getting equal pay.

How Do Employers Defend Against Equal Pay Lawsuits?

The main problem that you'll run into with an equal pay lawsuit is that the employer will argue that your job is not similar to other employees. It may appear that they are similar at first glance, but they actually are not. This can be challenging, because it is difficult to prove that you have the same responsibility as another employee if you are performing different tasks. An employer can show that each person has a unique job description that justifies the difference in pay. 

The other defense that the employer can use is to show that employees are paid differently based on education, experience, and qualifications. If the higher paid employee has a more advanced degree or more years of relevant experience in the field, that can be a successful justification about the differences in wages. 

What Can You Do Before Considering An Equal Pay Lawsuit?

The first thing you should do is make sure that the employee you are comparing yourself to has a similar job. If they work longer hours or manage other employees, these differences can result in a difference in pay that you may not be thinking about. 

You'll also want to do research into the other person's qualifications. It can be difficult to do research without asking questions, but you can't assume that an employee doesn't have different experience and qualifications than yourself. 

Can The Other Person's Wages Be Affected?

You may be worried about bringing up an equal pay lawsuit because the other person you are comparing yourself to will have their wages affected. Know that the law protects other employees as well, and the employer cannot lower the pay of other people to bring them down to your level of pay to make things equal.