A. General Overview

The Equal Pay Act (otherwise referred to as the “EPA”) of 1963 is a federal law requiring employers to pay men and women who do the same work the same amount.  The concept of “equal pay for equal work” has become a familiar refrain in the American workplace, particularly among female employees as they assert their rights to compensatory justice.  While men can also file a claim involving this law, the influx of women into traditionally male-dominated vocations has been much more rapid then the spread of pay equity among the sexes.  Thus, this claim is more commonly applied when a woman is paid less than a man for a similar job.

To file a successful claim, you must be able to prove that you and another employee of another gender:  (1) work in the same company, (2) perform equal work, and (3) receive unequal pay.

B. What is Equal Pay

Equal pay does not necessarily mean the exact same compensation.  A coworker may receive more commissions than you, and this would not violate the EPA.  In addition to your wage, equal pay includes benefits, retirement plans, vacation time, and bonuses.

C. Common Obstacles for the Employee

When it comes time for you to make a claim, showing that your work is equal is the most complicated part.  Your job does not have to be identical, only substantially equal.  To make this determination, the court will look at the skills, effort and responsibility, and working conditions for each position to determine whether the jobs are equal and deserve equal pay.  Do not get discouraged if your job description or title is different.  Rather, focus on the content of your job.

Another issue that must be handled properly for your case to succeed is the employer’s justification that a difference in pay is based on a seniority system, merit system, system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or any factor other than sex.  The last category (“any factor other than sex”) occurs most often and typically focuses on your skill or experience compared to the employee of another gender.  Of course, you will have an opportunity to refute the employer’s assertions, which leaves the court determining whether the employer’s reliance is legitimate.

Our Role is to Help Guide you Through This Process and Fight for Your Equal Rights

East Tennessee Employment Law can determine if you have a claim against your employer for violating the EPA.  If you believe you have a claim, call us at 865-383-1053 or fill out our contact form today.  If we determine your employer is in violation of the EPA, we will work with you to get you the equal pay you deserve.

We hope you found this description helpful.  We encourage you to go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website, www.eeoc.gov, for more general information about the enforcement of federal laws related to your employment.