The Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act states employers must pay employees at comparable rates of pay for comparable work without regard to gender.

  • Skill: Often a measure of educational level or technical certification.
  • Effort: Frequently a measure of hours worked.
  • Responsibility: The number of employees supervised, relative importance of the position.
  • Working Conditions: The nature of the job duties are essentially the same. For example, someone working in an office would not likely be comparable to someone working in a factory.

Why Might An Employer Pay Men And Women Differently?
If your employer can establish that there is acompensation system that is gender neutral,then the employer will not be held to have violated the Equal Pay Act. Two examples are:

  • Merit based compensation system: If compensation is based entirely on a gender neutral merit system (for example, the amount of sales by individuals in the field), then pay can be unequal.
  • Seniority system: If there is a seniority system governing pay, then pay can be unequal.

How do I know if my employer is violating the Equal Pay Act?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, your employer might be violating your rights:

  • Are there men with comparable experience to mine doing the same job who are getting paid more than me?
  • Does my employer have a history of paying men more than women for the same work?
  • Has any other woman ever successfully made this claim against my employer?

What Can You Do?
If you think your employer is paying you less than men with the same responsibility, skill and who show the same effort at work, you may be entitled to more compensation. This does not mean that you have to go to court. Each situation is different, but here are some first possible steps.

  • Educate yourself. Look at the resource list in this brochure.
  • If your workplace permits it, learn what others are paid to confirm whether you are underpaid.
  • Talk to your union representative if you have a collective bargaining agreement.
  • Consult with an attorney experienced in these cases as to whether you have a case (often there is no charge or obligation for this consultation).
  • Talk to your employer; express your concerns