What protections do you have for equal pay for equal work? If you believe that your employer is paying you less than an employee of the opposite sex because of sex, you should know about the laws through which you may seek redress.
Such laws include two (2) New Hampshire statutes, RSA 275:37 and the New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination (RSA 354-A), as well as two (2) federal laws, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (commonly known as Title VII). These laws prohibit employers from paying male employees and female employees unequally where the employees work in similar working conditions and hold jobs substantially equal in skill, effort, and responsibility. Notably, under RSA 354-A and Title VII, an employee must show that the employer intended to discriminate based on sex. No such showing of discriminatory intent is necessary for an Equal Pay Act claim.
How to File a Claim
The procedures for making a claim under these laws vary, as do the time periods within which the employee must make the claim. An employee pursuing relief for violation of RSA 275:37 must file his claim with the New Hampshire Department of Labor within 3 years of discovery of the violation. Equal Pay Act claims, by contrast, must be filed as complaints in State or Federal Court and have a two-tiered statute of limitations, three (3) years for a willful violation of the law and two (2) years otherwise. Title VII claimants, and persons claiming under the New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination, must first file Charges of Discrimination with administrative agencies tasked with investigating workplace discrimination, the Title VII claim needing to be filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 300 days of the last discriminatory act and the RSA 354-A claim needing to be filed with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights within 180 days of the last discriminatory act.
Damages for Discrimination
The remedies available under these laws also vary. The State equal pay law, and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, allow a successful plaintiff to recover back pay and an equivalent amount as liquidated damages. A successful plaintiff claiming under these laws cannot recover compensatory damages for such things as emotional distress, however. Title VII and RSA 354-A permit a prevailing plaintiff to recover back pay and compensatory damages, but not liquidated damages.
If you believe you have experienced discrimination by your employer, you should consult an experienced New Hampshire employment lawyer at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. at (603) 288-1403 for a free evaluation or online using our free evaluation form.