Are You Doing Equal Work For Unequal Pay?
You enjoy your job and you do it well. You are getting experience, but you just found out someone is doing the same job as you and getting paid more. The only difference you see is that you are a woman and the other person is male. Is your paycheck less just because you are a woman?
According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, on a national level, women are paid 77 cents for each dollar earned by a man. In Florida, women earn about 80 cents to each dollar earned by a male. When this wage gap occurs in a job performed by both a man and a woman, and either is paid less because of their gender, it could be wage discrimination.
Wage rate discrimination is prohibited by state and federal law. The Federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) provides that men and women performing substantially similar work be provided the same compensation. Compensation includes benefits like bonuses, salary, vacation time and profit sharing plans. In order to prove wage discrimination, certain circumstances must be proven, including:
- Proof of an unfair wage rate being paid on the basis of gender
- You are performing equal work that requires roughly equal skills, effort and responsibility
- Work circumstances and conditions are roughly equal
If an employee claims wage rate discrimination under Florida state law, an employer can defend itself on the following grounds:
- A higher paid employee has seniority
- The higher compensated employee is paid more based on merit
- Existence of a system whereby higher wages are awarded based on quality and quantity of work product
- Good faith reasoning based on any reasonable factor other than gender
While seniority, merit and work production are somewhat straightforward criteria, any reasonable factor leaves considerable room for creative argument by your employer concerning why you are paid less than a similarly situated male or female co-worker. That said, even if job titles are not the same, higher wages paid on the basis of gender for essentially similar work is against the law.
If you have questions about fair pay for equal work or other workplace discrimination, contact our office for answers.