Equal Pay Act
The Civil Rights Act and similar state and local laws generally prohibit discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment based upon an employee's gender. However, wage discrimination has long been a complex problem and remains prevalent today. Women now account for nearly half of the U.S. labor force. Nevertheless, they frequently receive lower pay and benefits for performing the same job as their male colleagues. The Equal Pay Act, enacted during the same era as the Civil Rights Act, allows those workers who experience wage discrimination based on gender to directly assert their rights in court. At Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP, our experienced Equal Pay lawyers in New York City have represented all types of workers who suffered under gender-discriminatory compensation practices. We know the law and can thoroughly investigate your case to determine if your employer is in violation.What does the Equal Pay Act provide?
The Equal Pay Act mandates that men and women performing substantially equal work in the same workplace must receive the same compensation and fringe benefits. This includes not only salary and wages but also perks like expense accounts, travel reimbursements, bonuses and insurances. What constitutes substantially equal work is determined by actual content rather than title or job description. This means that employers cannot circumvent the EPA and pay male employees more simply by giving them different job titles or writing extra duties into their job descriptions that they do not actually perform. Even when job duties differ, the Equal Pay Act may apply.
The EPA does have exceptions that allow unequal pay so long as it is based on factors other than sex, including:
- Bona fide merit, seniority or incentive systems
- Participation in training programs
- Shift differentials
- Differences in education, experience or ability
- Differences that are due to reasonable accommodations to disabled or injured employees
Some employers may unjustly use these legitimate reasons for pay differentials as a pretext for wage discrimination. An experienced NYC Equal Pay Act lawyer must closely examine the facts when an employer raises any of these affirmative defenses in order to determine its validity.What makes the Equal Pay Act different?
Pay discrimination on the basis of gender is certainly a type of discrimination contemplated under the Civil Rights Act and most Equal Pay Act violations are actionable violations under both laws. However, several factors make it advantageous for victims of wage discrimination to seek redress under the EPA whenever possible:
The Equal Pay Act allows victims of wage discrimination to proceed directly to court and does not require the victim first to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Under the EPA, a plaintiff need only prove that she was paid less for substantially the same work, whereas under Title VII she must also prove that the pay disparity was due to her gender.
The limitation periods under the EPA are much longer than those under the Civil Rights Act. A plaintiff under the Civil Rights Act has as little as 180 days to file a charge with the EEOC in order to preserve his or her right to sue. Under the EPA, plaintiffs have up to two years from the first act of discrimination to file suit, and three years if the alleged violation was willful.
However, unlike under Title VII, the filing of a charge with the EEOC does not toll the statute of limitations. Moreover, under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the 180-day time limit renews with each new discriminatory paycheck whereas the time limit for the EPA runs continuously from the first act of discrimination. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed in 2009 in response to a Supreme Court case in which an Alabama woman was denied compensation for nearly two decades of pay discrimination because she waited too long to file a charge with the EEOC.Our NY equal pay lawyers can help you get fair compensation for your work
Despite the many laws on the books regarding workplace discrimination, wage discrimination between men and women is still common in the United States. This practice endures because too many hardworking women are afraid to come forward and expose the injustices they face every payday. If you believe you are being or were compensated at a level below your male peers despite doing substantially the same work, the Equal Pay Act or the Civil Rights Act may provide you with legal recourse. Our NYC equal pay attorneys at the law firm of Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP are experienced in litigating on behalf of women who suffered pay discrimination based on gender. Call our office today to arrange a free initial consultation. We are available at (212) 688-5640 or online. Se habla espanol.