During a conversation with a co-worker of the opposite sex, you discover that he or she is paid significantly more than you to perform the same job function in Kansas City. Further discussions reveal that nearly all of the employees who share his or her gender are in the same situation. Is your lower pay scale simply due to your sex? Are there not laws prohibiting this, and if so, could your company be in violation of them?
Per the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, federal legislation known as the Equal Pay Act does indeed prohibit companies from compensating employees differently solely based upon gender. The purpose of this law is to ensure that pay is equitable amongst those that work in the same conditions performing functions that require the same skills, efforts and responsibilities.
It should be noted however, that the EPA does not mandate that all employees in the same roles be paid the same. It does allow companies to establish different pay scales bases off factors that are unrelated to gender, such as:
- Production quantity
Knowing this, your employer might make the argument that your co-workers that are being paid more than you are either tenured or have meet a production or skill standard that warrants their increased compensation. If it is able to prove this, then its policies may be compliant with the law.
On the other hand, you could potentially present an argument that, given the fact that a majority of your co-workers of the opposite sex are being paid more, your employer’s criteria for determining its pay scale is indeed discriminatory. This article is not meant to serve as a substitute for legal advice, but rather to prompt questioning as to whether you are indeed being treated unfairly at work.