Coyle Browne Law


How Does the Equal Pay Act Protect Women?

For decades, achieving pay equality has been a persistent challenge for women in the workforce. Historically and currently, women have faced significant wage disparities compared to their male counterparts.

Aiming to address this critical issue is the Equal Pay Act (EPA), enacted in 1963 as a cornerstone piece of legislation designed specifically to eliminate gender-based pay differences. The most important point of this Act includes:

Equal Pay For Equal Work

The Equal Pay Act operates on the fundamental principle of “equal pay for equal work,” ensuring that men and women performing roles that are substantially equal in the same workplace are compensated equally. Determining if two jobs are equal is evaluated based on the content of the work, not the job titles. In this regard, “pay” refers to at least all of the following types of compensation

  • Salary
  • Overtime pay
  • Bonuses
  • Stock options
  • Profit sharing and bonus plans 
  • Life insurance benefits 
  • Holiday and vacation pay
  • Travel expenses and benefits

Section 3.  Wage Rates.–(a)  No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs, the performance of which, requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions

The Equal Pay Act stipulates that to address any wage disparity between men and women, employers cannot simply lower the wages of one gender to achieve equality. The aim is for the employer to raise the pay of the lower-paid sex rather than reducing anyone’s wage, ensuring fairness and compliance without disadvantaging either party. Keep in mind, if you are not being paid fairly due to your gender, contact our sex discrimination lawyers in San Diego today.

How to Substantiate an Equal Pay Act Claim

To build a compelling Equal Pay Act claim, it’s crucial to understand and meet several key elements that underline compensation discrimination complaints. By focusing on the comparability of jobs within the same establishment, here’s how you can substantiate an EPA claim:

Skill: The comparison must begin with evaluating if the jobs in question demand substantially equal skills in terms of experience, education, ability, and training required. Keep in mind that this measure focuses on what skills are necessary for performing the job at hand rather than personal capabilities employees may possess.

Effort: Another critical comparison involves assessing whether both roles require similar levels or types of physical or mental exertion. Effort refers to how much work or intensity is demanded by each job.

Responsibility: Examine the degree of accountability demanded by each job being compared. This involves understanding the extent of discretion and oversight required, as well as the impact decisions made in these roles can have on an organization.

Similar working conditions: This evaluation must consider two main factors: 1) the physical surroundings, including aspects like temperature, ventilation, or exposure to fumes, and 2) hazards of the job. An in-depth comparison ensures that jobs are not only alike in duties but also align in operational settings.

Establishment: The EPA’s criteria stipulate that jobs being compared must physically coexist within the same establishment, which is defined as a specific location of business rather than spanning several places of business under one enterprise. However, there can be exceptions where different locations are treated as a single unit if they share centralized administrative functions like employee hiring and compensation.

These guidelines form the foundation needed to prove an Equal Pay Act claim effectively. The best way to ensure your claim is as strong as possible is to speak to a labor lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our San Diego employment attorney today to schedule a free consultation.

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