Pay Discrimination in the Workplace: Am I Protected?
Pay discrimination in the workplace affects the lives and livelihoods of employees every day. It occurs when someone performs similar work to another employee but does not receive equal pay. It is not uncommon — and it is often unlawful.
Unfortunately, employers across varying industries engage in wage discrimination in the workplace anyway, disregarding state and federal laws. But employees have many rights and protections to receive fair wages — and the right to hold employers accountable for violations of the law.
What Is Pay Discrimination?
Pay discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employer fails to pay the same wages to employees who perform substantially equal work. Under federal law, this comparison would be that the employees have substantially equal responsibility, skill, and effort and work under similar conditions.
A common misconception of what would amount to wage discrimination is that the employees would have to have the same job title, and this is not true. It is the job content that is recognized under the law when comparing substantially equal work.
Additionally, people often think in terms of straight wages, but pay discrimination in the workplace can also occur in other areas, including:
- Overtime Pay
- Stock Options
- Bonus Plans
- Vacation and Holiday Pay
- Life Insurance
- Reimbursement for Travel Expenses
- Gasoline and Cleaning Allowances
- Hotel Accommodations
With wages/salary and all of these other forms of pay, employees who are faced with unequal pay in the workplace can lose a substantial amount of money and additional benefits, which can quickly add up over time.
Examples of Wage Discrimination in the Workplace
There are various situations that could amount to wage discrimination in the workplace. Here are some wage discrimination examples:
- A male and a female radiologic technician at a hospital perform the same job and have similar education and experience. The male employee receives 15% higher wages on each paycheck than the female employee.
- A white male computer technician and an African American female computer technician at an information technology company have similar skills and education and perform the same work. The white male worker receives 13% more in standard wages than the African American female worker, but he is also offered a bonus plan. She does not have a bonus plan.
- A 29-year-old sales associate and a 45-year-old customer service associate at a big box retailer are assigned to the service desk, performing the same job each day. They have similar skills and responsibilities, working in the same conditions. The sales associate receives $20/hour in pay, while the customer service associate receives $15/hour.
Florida and Federal Wage Discrimination Laws: Am I Protected?
Florida and federal wage discrimination laws protect employees against wage disparity for discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. These include:
The Equal Pay Act (EPA)— this federal legislation prohibits sex-based wage discrimination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — this federal legislation has wide-ranging protections against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) — this federal legislation prohibits employment discrimination against a qualified person based on a disability.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) — this federal legislation prohibits employment discrimination against employees who are at least 40 years old or older.
The Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) — this state legislation prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.
Can I Sue for Pay Discrimination?
Employees across job titles and industries have protections against pay discrimination in the workplace. If your situation qualifies for a case, you have the right to sue your employer. When you consult with an employment law attorney, they provide expert guidance, reviewing what happened and providing your best legal options moving forward.
No one deserves to be discriminated against, and everyone deserves fair pay for their hard work. If you sue, you may be able to recover substantial back pay and additional damages.
Wage Discrimination Cases in Florida
Employee rights attorneys aggressively pursue wage discrimination cases in Florida. Whether it is an unequal pay situation due to sex, race, disability, or other protected categories, your lawyer will work diligently for you each step of the way. They will utilize the power of federal and state legislation and their skill and experience in holding employers accountable for violating the law.
How to Prove My Case
There are a variety of strategies and laws that can be used to prove a wage discrimination case. If your lawyer uses the Equal Pay Act as the primary legislation for the basis of your case, they will need to prove similarities in skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. There also needs to be an establishment, a dedicated building or buildings, where the individuals work to prove the case.
Other legislation does not necessarily have these parameters, but discrimination must be proven, which can be done by documentation, evidence, witnesses, effective strategy, and skill.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) oversees the administration of wage discrimination cases. Your lawyer can manage the filing of the case and help with mediation and negotiations.
If you believe you have a case, gather as much information (pay stubs, job descriptions, memos, HR records, etc.) as you can. If you do not think you have enough documentation, it is still highly advisable to consult with an employment law attorney. You may have much more than you think to make a strong case.
Unequal Pay in the Workplace: When to Contact An Employment & Labor Law Attorney
If you believe you have been getting unequal pay and have been subject to pay discrimination in the workplace, contact an attorney as soon as possible. The earlier you have legal representation, the better. The EEOC process does take time, but it is crucial to ensure that you are following the appropriate steps and have a strong mediator on your side. If needed, your lawyer can also represent you in court, but many wage discrimination cases can be resolved out of court — while obtaining a fair resolution.