Despite the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act passing more than 50 years ago, wage discrimination against women in the workplace is still a hot topic. Women across the United States are working to have their voices heard. For this reason, it is important that business owners understand exactly what equal pay is and how to ensure they are providing it.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
If you run a business, you must pay your employees equally if they do the same job, regardless of whether they are male or female. Equal pay for equal work is based on a person’s job duties and responsibilities, not on their job title. Experience, education, training and ability are all determining factors, as is the amount of physical or mental effort that goes into the job and working conditions. For compensation to be considered equal, you must pay both employees the same rate and provide the same insurance plan, retirement and pension benefits, profit sharing program, bonus opportunities, paid vacation and sick time.
Discriminating against someone because she is pregnant or could become pregnant is considered gender discrimination. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act states that employers cannot base their hiring practices, pay practices or health benefits practices on pregnancy status. Additionally, if an employee does give birth and takes time off to care for her newborn, you must hold her position for her for as long as you would be required to if she were taking time off due to an illness.
How Filing a Claim Works
If a woman feels you are not paying her fairly in comparison to her male counterparts, she can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is responsible for enforcing civil rights laws in the workplace by investigating, mediating and settling disputes. Someone who wants to file a claim must go to the nearest EEOC office within 180 days of the violation or provide proof under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The EEOC will notify you of the situation within 10 days of the filing and then investigate to determine if there is cause for the allegation. If they find cause, you will need to follow the proper steps to ensure you return your business to the right side of the law. This involves ensuring equal pay. However, you cannot legally lower someone’s pay. Instead, you must raise your female employee’s pay until it is equal to the male’s pay. If the EEOC does not find the complaint to have any merit, the filer will be allowed to request a review within 14 days.
When a woman decides to file a complaint with the EEOC, she will have the burden of proof. This means she must prove that she is doing the same job as a male who is working in the same establishment, but is being paid less or receiving fewer fringe benefits. In some situations, you will be able to cite affirmative defenses to prove you are not acting in an unfair manner. Affirmative defenses are situations in which you can justifiably pay one gender more than another for doing the same job. These include situations of seniority or merit or if the employee being paid the higher amount provides a higher quality or quantity of work. If you wish to use an affirmative defense to dispute a claim, you are responsible for providing proof of the situation. Taking the proper steps to ensure you use fair pay practices will help to keep you out of stressful situations regarding equal pay laws. Be sure to review your pay practices on a regular basis to ensure you and anyone in charge of hiring is following the law.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.