Alabama Equal Pay Act Violations Lawyer
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), an amendment to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, requires that men and women are paid equally when they perform the same work. The EPA regulates the conduct of federal, state, and local government employers as well as most private employers, and nearly all workers are covered by the Act. If you believe your employer is not giving you equal pay for equal work, you may have the right to compensation.
Attorney Kira Fonteneau has been a strong legal advocate on behalf of working people since 2005. Attorney Fonteneau has in-depth experience handling Equal Pay Act Violation cases and similar employment discrimination cases, and she has a strong track record of success securing favorable results for her clients. Kira understands the frustration individuals go through when they do not receive fair pay for the work they do, and she fights hard to obtain appropriate legal relief and ensure that employers who engage in these practices are held fully accountable.
How is “Equal Work” Defined?
Two jobs do not have to be identical to be considered “equal work” under the law. It is far less important how an employer classifies a job (e.g., job title, description, etc.) and far more important what the actual duties of the job entail. In general, two jobs are considered equal work if they involve the same level of effort, skill, and responsibility, and the jobs are performed under similar conditions. Even if there are minor differences in these areas, these differences may not be enough to make the jobs unequal. On the other hand, if one job clearly has extra duties and responsibilities, it is acceptable for the employer to compensate for these differences. If these types of jobs are typically given exclusively to one gender over another, however, this practice may still be an Equal Pay Act violation.
How is “Equal Pay” Defined?
The Equal Pay Act does not necessarily mandate that each employee receives exactly the same pay for the same job. There can be variations in compensation based on the productivity of employees and/or meeting certain benchmarks to receive bonuses and incentives. This is particularly common in sales positions, where it is typical for employees to receive a combination of base pay plus sales-based incentives. The EPA requires employers to pay more than just equal wages; if an employee does what can be defined as “equal work”, they must also receive equal fringe benefits, which may include group health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, retirement plan contributions, etc.
Equal Pay Act vs. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
The Equal Pay Act was passed one year prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws address wage discrimination, but Title VII of the Civil Rights Act includes much broader protections, such as banning discrimination in all other areas of the employment process, including hiring, firing, promotions, layoffs, etc. Title VII also addresses many other types of discrimination; such as race, religion, color, and national origin.
There are many discrimination cases that may fall under the purview of both the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. In such cases, there are advantages and disadvantages with each type of legal claim. For example, if you file a claim under the EPA, you can directly pursue litigation against your employer without first filing a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
EPA actions also require less burden of proof, making them easier to win. The main advantage to pursing a legal claim under Title VII is the ability to sue for compensatory damages beyond just wages lost. This may include pain and suffering, emotional trauma, etc. These types of damages are not available through EPA actions, although in cases of especially egregious conduct on the part of the employer, it may be possible to ask for double your lost wages.
Factors Considered in an Equal Pay Act Violations Claim
If you choose to file a lawsuit against your employer under the Equal Pay Act, the courts examine the factors that are used to define “equal work”, including:
- Skills: Skills are measured based on the background, education, experience, training, and abilities that are relevant to the specific job in question. Skills that are unrelated to the job are not considered. For example, if two employees hold sales-based positions and one of them has a master’s degree in political science, that qualification would likely not be seen as relevant when measuring the skills for that position.
- Job Responsibilities: Minor differences in job responsibility are usually not enough to justify a difference in pay. For example, if one employee is tasked with turning out the lights at the end of the day, that additional responsibility would not be significant enough to justify a pay increase.
- Effort: If there is a difference in effort required to perform the job, the extra effort needed must be substantial and a regular part of the job. For example, if two factory workers both had the job of assembling a part, but one was also tasked with packaging the assembled part, this may be considered substantial additional effort.
- Working Conditions: Two factors are examined to determine the similarity of working conditions; physical surroundings and job hazards.
- Establishment: An Equal Pay Act violation can only occur if two employees work at the same establishment. According to the EEOC, this means a “distinct physical place of business rather than an entire business or enterprise consisting of several places of business.” There are some circumstances, however, when locations that are physically separate may be considered one establishment.
The Equal Pay Act provides some exceptions in which pay differentials are allowed based on factors other than sex. Examples include merit, seniority, quantity, and quality of production. The employer has the burden to prove if any of these exceptions are permittable based on the specific facts of the case.
Speak to a Seasoned Alabama Equal Pay Act Violations Lawyer
If you believe your employer is in violation of the Equal Pay Act and/or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, you may have the right to take legal action. To decide which legal route to take, it is best to seek out skilled legal counsel as soon as possible. Attorney Kira Fonteneau understands the complexities of the various employment laws, and she can go over your options with you to help determine the right course of action. For a personalized consultation with Attorney Fonteneau, contact our office today at (205) 564-9005.