Practice Areas

Equal Pay for Equal Work

“Wage gap” refers to the phenomenon of employers paying women less than men for equal work. This is still a major problem, and in some industries more than others. The tech industry, pharmaceutical and insurance sales agents, financial advisors, loan officers, and education administrators may be some of the hardest hit groups when it comes to the wage gap.

Federal and state laws require employers to compensate men and women in the same workplace equally for equal work. Compensation can include salaries, but also extends to bonuses, stock options, employer-sponsored life insurance, travel reimbursements, and other benefits. Unlike other discrimination claims, a claim under the federal Equal Pay Act does not require the employee to prove that the employer acted with discriminatory intent.

To have a claim, you simply have to show that your employer pays you less than someone of the opposite sex for equal work. Your job title does not have to be the same as the better-paid male employee, and your job duties do not have to be identical, but your work has to be substantially equal in terms of skill, effort, and responsibility. If you prove that, then the employer may defend against the claim by showing that the differential can be accounted for by some measure other than sex, such as a merit or seniority system.

Recently, California passed a new law to increase the requirements for wage equality. The California Fair Pay Act is more employee-friendly than the Equal Pay Act. This law ensures that male and female employees who perform “substantially similar” work receive equal pay, even if they work at different work sites for the same employer or have different job titles.

Of course, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and state laws also prohibit sex discrimination in employment—and equal pay claims may be also available under those laws.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your potential claim, please contact Anna Schwingler at (612) 256-3296 or via email at aschwingler@nka.com.