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Congress created the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to correct the conditions caused by sex-based pay inequities that adversely affected women's earning potential. The Act was passed as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act and established that women should receive "equal pay for equal work." Although the Equal Pay Act has helped narrow the pay gap between men and women, women still earn about 77 percent of what men earn. That number is even lower for minority women. This pay discrepancy has long-lasting effects on women, affecting their lifetime earning capacity. This pay disparity exists in virtually every industry, including fields that are traditionally dominated by women.
The Equal Pay Act prohibits discrimination in pay rates based solely on gender. Under the Act, men and women who work under similar work conditions in a role that requires equal responsibility, effort and skill must be paid the same amount. However, employees who perform substantially similar job functions can be paid different rates based on seniority, merit, educational background and other systems that are not based on sex.
Because proving discrimination under the Equal Pay Act can be difficult, contact Parks, Chesin & Walbert to discuss your case.Gender Cannot Be Determining Factor
According to the Equal Pay Act, employers are not allowed to use an employee's sex as a determining factor for compensation. Employees are entitled to receive equal pay for equal work. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees of the opposite sex for jobs requiring "equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions" except for instances in which the employer considers other factors such as seniority, merit, education or some other non-discriminatory method of determining pay rate.
The Equal Pay Act requires only that the jobs are substantially similar—they do not need to be identical. The actual job functions are taken into consideration, not simply the job title. Skill is measured by the experience, ability, training and education that is required to perform a job.Filing a Claim Under the Equal Pay Act
A woman filing a claim under the Equal Pay Act must have an actual male competitor. An employer may try to justify the discrepancy in pay because of a non-discriminatory system for determining compensation. These systems may include higher pay rates due to seniority, merit or measured job performance.
Employers found guilty of violating the Equal Pay Act will be liable for compensatory damages. If an employee is able to prove that the employer willfully violated the law, the employer may also be required to pay punitive damages.
The law imposes a two-year statute of limitations to bring a claim under the Equal Pay Act. The statute of limitations begins running when the employee discovered the discrimination. Because filing a claim of pay discrimination is a difficult process, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney before moving forward with your claim. A skilled attorney can help you gather the information necessary to prove your case.The Skilled Attorneys at Parks, Chesin & Walbert Will Conduct a Thorough Investigation
Because proving pay discrimination under the Equal Pay Act is difficult, you need to work with a determined lawyer who will leave no stone unturned while investigating your case. Parks, Chesin & Walbert thrives on challenge. We rely on a team-based approach to working on our clients' legal matters. This approach allows every attorney at our firm to look at a case from a different angle and develop successful legal strategies for resolving claims under the Equal Pay Act. Whether you are an employee or employer, we will make sure your legal rights are protected. Call us at 404-873-8048.