The Equal Pay Act (EPA) is a law enacted by the federal government that prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee based on their sex. The Act requires that an employer equally compensate a man and a woman who are doing the same type of job The EPA is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Job titles alone are not enough to determine whether two jobs are equal. Rather, the skills, responsibilities, working conditions, and effort a job requires are all important factors in determining whether two jobs warrant equal pay.
In determining whether two jobs warrant equal pay, the skills required to perform a job are relevant, not the skills each person possesses. For example, one person may have a law degree and the other person may not. However, if they are performing the exact same job, and have the same experience and training for that job, they should be paid the same. Two persons may be paid differently for a similar job if one has more experience, education, ability, or training than the other that is directly related to the skills required for the job
If a male and a female employee are working the same job side by side, with the same amount of effort, they should be paid the same wages. However, if one person has a more difficult job description (such as lifting an assembled product, or moving a heavy piece of equipment), in addition to the job duties that are essentially similar, they should be paid more.
If there are two salespersons, but one has the additional responsibility of ensuring that all clients are contacted on a weekly basis to confirm orders, then the employee with the additional responsibility may be paid more. However, if the differences in responsibilities are minor or unimportant, then the two employees should be paid the same.
The law allows different employees working in different physical locations or conditions to be paid differently if there are distinct conditions that make one a more discordant or more dangerous work environment.
Unfair Pay and the Equal Pay Act
If you believe your employer has engaged in pay discrimination based on your gender, you may file a claim under the EPA or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many employees who are discriminated against choose to file under both laws, however, there are some distinctions between the two. For example, the EPA does not require an employee to prove that an employer intentionally discriminated against them. Title VII allows you to include additional categories of damages that are unavailable under the EPA. These laws are complex and technical, and you should consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights are protected