The #MeToo movement has spurred some positive momentum for women’s’ rights in the United States.  One thing that has gotten more attention since the #MeToo movement began has been the Equal Pay Act (EPA). In this article, we give a general overview of the EPA.

What Is The Equal Pay Act (EPA)?

Congress passed the Equal Pay Act (EPA) in 1963. It prohibits wage discrimination between men and women who perform similar jobs, with similar skills and responsibilities, in similar conditions. The EPA is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the organization to enforce the EPA. In layman’s terms, it is illegal to pay women less than men for doing the same job.

Does That Mean I Cannot Give A Man More Pay Than A Woman?

Not necessarily.  If there is a non-gender justifiable reason to pay a male employee more than a female employee, then it would be permissible to do so.  An example of this might be the educational level.  If a company has a male and female employee doing the same job but the male employee has earned extra certifications relevant to their job function, then it would be permissible for the employer to reward the male employee for obtaining those certifications.

Does Payment History Justify A Payment Discrepancy?

Using an employee’s previous payment history from previous jobs may not be proper under the EPA.  If a female worker has a history of lower pay, that lower pay may be a result of previous employers violating the EPA.  As a result, the payment may be considered based on gender issues and therefore not allowed under the EPA.

How To Prove EPA Violations

Unlike most laws, the intent is not a factor in proving that an EPA violation occurred.  For an employee to show that an employer violated the EPA, they will need to show that they had similar work responsibilities, skills, and background as male employees and are getting paid less.

Does Job Title Matter?

The EEOC will not look at job titles to determine if there is a violation under the EPA.  If a male employee is a manager but does the same work under the same conditions as a female employee, the fact that the male employee has a different job title may not shield the employer from violating the EPA.

Is There a Time Constraint on When a Person Can File an EPA Claim?

No, every time a female worker gets paid less than her male coworker(s), they have the right to file an EPA claim.  Essentially, every pay period becomes an opportunity for a female employee to make a claim.

What Is The Violation For Losing an EPA Claim?

If the EEOC determines an employer is in violation of the EPA, they must adjust the victim’s pay moving forward. Additionally, they will owe back pay which may include interest or damages.

Call For a Consultation

Although the law is pretty straightforward, adhering to the law may get complicated.  If you are concerned that your business may violate the EPA, contact the attorneys at Dowd Law and we will go over your payment structure to make sure you comply.  We will also advise you on creating an equitable pay structure for both male and female employees moving forward.