Filing a Claim for Violation of the Equal Pay Act
Equal Pay Act Protection
The Equal Pay Act protects workers from gender discrimination in wages and benefits. Employees must be given equal pay for equal work. Violation of the Equal Pay Act is a valid cause of action and employees who are paid less than other employees because of their gender can file a claim against the employer for damages.
Does the Equal Pay Act Only Protect Women?
While the Equal Pay Act was originally established to correct the unfair pay differential generally faced by women, the courts have since ruled that the Act applies to both genders and that "reverse" discrimination against men is also a violation.
Proving a Claim for Violation of the Equal Pay Act
To prevail in a claim against an employer for violation of the Equal Pay Act, an employee must establish the employer/employee relationship and prove all of the following:
- Employee was paid less than another employee of different gender performing equal work
- "Equal Work" as determined by equal skill, effort and responsibility
- Work performed under similar working conditions
- Pay differential based on gender
Shifting Burdens of Proof
An employee making a claim against an employer has the initial burden of proof to establish that all of the above factors are met. If established, the employer then has the burden of proof to defend against the claim.
Prima Facie and Willful Violations
If it is determined that the factors are met, then it is prima facie evidence ("bare minimum") of the violation and the employer is liable for compensatory damages.
An employee may also attempt to prove that the violation was willful by showing that the employer knew, or should have known, of the Equal Pay Act provisions and recklessly disregarded them. A successful claim of willful violation can result in additional punitive damages.
Statute of Limitations
A claimed violation of the Equal Pay Act generally must be filed in state or federal court within two years of the date the cause of action occurred. This date is typically determined as the date a discriminatory pay action took place or the date the employee discovered (or should have discovered) the discrimination.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Equal Pay Act Claim?
Filing a sex discrimination claim against an employer is difficult to pursue without a lawyer. An experienced employment lawyer can help you understand your rights under the Equal Pay Act and represent you in court and file any necessary paperwork.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 10-12-2011 11:59 AM PDT