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Wage Discriminated Employees

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What Is Wage Discrimination?

Wage discrimination occurs when an employee is being unfairly compensated for their work compared to other employees. All employees have the right to be free from discrimination in their wage compensation under federal employment laws.

Wage discrimination laws protect employees for all types of payments related to employment such as:

  • Salary
  • Hourly Base pay
  • Overtime pay
  • Bonuses
  • Stock options
  • Bonus plans
  • Profit sharing
  • Vacation and holiday bonus
  • Work related reimbursements

Under the Equal Pay Act, men and women have the right to be paid equally when the job is equal. Men and women should not be paid unequally when they perform jobs that require equal skill, experience, effort, and responsibility when both men and women perform the same set of work under similar working conditions within the same company.

What Are the Types of Wage Discrimination?

An employer can commit wage discrimination when they treat and/or pay employees differently based on a protected characteristic. Wage discrimination can occur in several ways:

  • An employer segregates a group of individuals who share the same race into its lowest paying job and refuses to give them any opportunity to advance into higher paying positions.
  • An employer pays a person differently based on their race, religion, gender, and/or sexual orientation.
  • An employer gives all male employees better job opportunities and higher salaries.
  • An employer pays all older employees a higher salary even through there are younger employees who do the same work and have the same amount of experiences as the older employees.

Who Is Covered under the Wage Discrimination Laws?

The Equal Pay Act covers all employees since the law regulates the conduct of state, federal, and local governments. To successfully make a claim under the Equal Pay Act, an employee who believes they have been wrongfully discriminated and is being paid unequally or differently must prove:

  • They have been wrongfully discriminated by their employer based on their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristic
  • They are being paid unequally
  • They are doing equal work and receiving unequal pay
  • They work in the same place

Does My Case Qualify for a Class Action by Discriminated Employees?

Sometimes a company pays a whole group a lower wage. In a class action suit, several employees who feel that they have been discriminated against can join forces and ask a judge to allow the case to be a class-action suit. Women can sue under both the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. A group that feels they have been given a lower wage because of their race or color, religion, pregnancy or childbirth, or national origin can sue under Title VII.

An Example of a Class Action Suit

Recently, a ruling in a federal court concluded that a suit against a company can be tried as a nationwide class-action lawsuit. The employees suing had shown that there were significant issues concerning the company’s discriminatory practices. The employees claimed that women were paid less in all store locations, and that promotions were harder to come by for female employees.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

A class-action lawsuit against an employer is difficult to pursue without an employment lawyer. As in all employment discrimination suits, you have to decide if a claim should be filed under the Equal Pay Act or under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or under both. This can be difficult without an attorney experienced in class-action discrimination suits.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 11-18-2014 12:48 PM PST

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