The importance of knowing your rights as an employee cannot be understated. Unfortunately, the laws regulating the employer and employee relationship can be complex, varied, and next to impossible to unravel. We’re here to help. Here, we will take a look at the Equal Pay Act. An important piece of federal legislation that protects employees from being discriminated against on the basis of sex.
What to Know About the Equal Pay Act
In 1963, a federal labor law referred to as the “Equal Pay Act” was passed. At its foundation, the Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying employees different wages when the difference is based solely on the employee’s sex. While the Act was introduced to target pay disparities between men and women, it provides protection to employees of any sex. It provides this protection to federal, state, and local government employees as well as the majority of private-sector employees. If you are doing similar work at a similar standard than a work colleague of the opposite sex, you should be getting paid the same as them or you may be the victim of unlawful discrimination under the Equal Pay Act.
Unfortunately, trying to discern whether the pay disparity is a form of discrimination can be complicated, to say the least. There are a number of facts and circumstances that must be accounted for in order to determine whether a violation of the Equal Pay Act has occurred. For instance, it is critical in supporting an assertion that the Equal Pay Act has been violated that the claimant be able to show that they were engaging in work equal to that of another employee of a different sex.
Determining “equal work,” in turn, will require an analysis of the nature of said work. This means that there will need to be a showing that the employees were engaging in work requiring a similar skillset and that they were substantially similar in both ability and experience as well as education or training necessary to perform the job. There will also need to be a demonstration that the effort and exertion, either mental, physical, or both, required of the employees was substantially similar. The jobs must also have required similar degrees of accountability as well as similar working conditions.
Should you decide to bring a wage discrimination claim pursuant to the Equal Pay Act, you have two options to do so. One way to pursue a claim is through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Alternatively, you can file a lawsuit in civil court. Regardless of where you file, you should be mindful of the time constraints on bringing such claims. You have two years from the alleged wage discrimination practice to file your claim. Should you believe the discrimination to have been intentional, you will have three years to bring your claim.