Q & A: Navigating discriminatory pay in the workplace.
Q1) What type of case can I pursue if I think my employer is paying me less than I deserve?
A: The Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Georgia Equal Pay Act are laws that protect individuals from discriminatory pay based on sex.
Q2) How do I know if I have a case?
A: The Equal Pay Act is a federal law that requires employers to pay opposite sexes the same wages for equal work. The Court looks at the duties and responsibilities of a position, rather than job titles to determine whether the jobs are similar enough to warrant equal pay. The Court assesses the skills, efforts, responsibilities, and working conditions of each position to see if a plaintiff has provided enough evidence to establish a prima facie case. If an employee can prove discriminatory pay at this stage, the employer can avoid liability by proving that sex was not a factor in wage or salary decisions. The employer will allege that:
(i) a seniority system;
(ii) a merit system;
(iii) quantity or quality of production; or
(iv) any other factor other than sex
is the reason for the pay disparity. To win a pay discrimination case, the employee must prove that the employer’s stated reasons for the pay disparity are false.
Q3) What type of evidence is helpful in proving discriminatory pay cases?
A: Data. For a plaintiff (employee pursuing a claim), comparative data is incredibly helpful to prove discriminatory pay. You should keep records of your credentials, accomplishments, deliverables (i.e., 20% improvement in supply chain operations), as compared to your colleagues. Do you have documentation to prove that you performed better (gained more clients, closed more deals, increased gross revenues) than other colleagues in a similar position, but were still paid less?
Q4) Can I file a lawsuit today?
A: Possibly. The Equal Pay Act does not have any administrative processes to complete prior to filing a lawsuit. However, Title VII requires that employees file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prior to filing a lawsuit. If an employee declines to complete the administrative process with the EEOC, the employee would be excluded from pursuing Title VII claims. You may want to consult with a lawyer to protect all of your potential claims against your employer.
Q5) How long do I have before my claim expires?
A: Under the Equal Pay Act, employees have 2 years to file a lawsuit or 3 years if the employee can prove willful discrimination. Title VII requires employees to file a charge of discrimination within 180 days. The Georgia Equal Pay Act has a 1-year statute of limitations.
Q6) What type of damages are recoverable for discriminatory pay?
A: You may be entitled to liquidated damages, unpaid wages, court costs, and attorney’s fees.
Q7) What's the next step?
A: Schedule a consultation to discuss your specific case.
Q8) What’s included in a consultation?
A. During a consultation, Attorney Edmonds will discuss your case facts, assess your potential claims, and discuss possible resolutions. During a consult, we can address:
statute of limitations concerns
employer exceptions for unequal pay
how to prove pretext (i.e. that the employer's reasons are false)
representation at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
data compilation and open records requests
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