Today is Equal Pay Day. In recognition of the day, some commercial establishments are giving women 20% off today. A report of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress published in April of 2016 explains the significance of this discount. The report states that, in 2015, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men.
Equal Pay Act of 1963
A federal law called the Equal Pay Act of 1963 bans the payment of different wages to employees of opposite sexes within an employer’s 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 Act protects both men and women. Private employees are entitled to the protection of the Act if: (1) they themselves are engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for interstate commerce; or (2) they are employed by a business engaged in interstate commerce or the production of goods for interstate commerce. The Act also covers most government employees.
To have a case under the Equal Pay Act, an employee must show: (1) that the employer is subject to the Act; (2) that discrimination regarding wages occurred within the same working establishment; (3) that the employee performed work in a position requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions; and (4) that the employee was paid less than a comparable employee of the opposite sex.
Once an employee shows each of these elements, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to prove that one (1) of four (4) statutory defenses apply. The employer must prove that the wage differential between the employee and the comparable employee of the opposite sex is attributable to a seniority system, a merit system, a system based on quality or quantity of production, or another factor other than sex. Courts have said that the employer’s burden of proof at this stage is heavy.
If you believe you may have an Equal Pay Act claim, you should consult an attorney experienced in employee rights litigation such as Benjamin King at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey. You can reach Attorney King at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form.