The Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206, requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work. The Equal Pay Act was originally enacted to address the disparity in pay between men and women and to protect women against discrimination, but the language of the statute has been read to apply equally to men.
The Equal Pay Act makes exceptions if the pay differential is based upon:
(1) a seniority system;
(2) a merit system;
(3) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
(4) a differential based on any other factor other than sex:
An employer violating the equal pay act cannot lower the wages of any employee to come into compliance.
Unlike Title VII and ADEA claims, the Equal Pay Act applies to most employers (not just those with 15 or 20 or more employees). In fact, it covers all federal, state, and local employees and all employers covered by the minimum wage standards of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Equal Pay Act exempts certain specific industries from its coverage, including some fishing and agricultural businesses. See 29 U.S.C. § 213.
Title VII claims for gender discrimination or claims under the PHRA, New Jersey LAD, or DC Human Rights Act often accompany claims under the Equal Pay Act. Unlike Title VII, PHRA, LAD and DC Human Rights Act, a claim under the Equal Pay Act does not require prove of intent to discriminate.
There are no administrative requirements to bring a claim under the Equal Pay Act, but you have two years to bring a claim, unless the employer’s violation of the Equal Pay Act was willful (i.e. the employer knew or showed a reckless disregard that its conduct violated the Equal Pay Act), in which case you have three years from the date of the violation to bring a claim.
What do you get for proving a violation of the Equal Pay Act?
A plaintiff is entitled to recover the amount of underpayment as liquidated damages as back pay for two years for non-willful violations and three years for willful violations . A plaintiff is not entitled to compensatory damages in the form of pain and suffering. A successful plaintiff is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs under the Equal Pay Act. If you prove a willful violation of the Equal Pay Act, the employer may be fined up to $10,000 and may be prosecuted criminally.
Retaliation against employee for reporting violation of Equal Pay Act
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee who files a complaint alleging a violation of the Equal Pay Act. Compensatory damages and possibly punitive damages are available for a retaliation claim under the Equal Pay Act.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney regarding a claim based on any of the subjects discussed above, contact Klaproth Law PLLC for a free consultation.
Klaproth Law PLLC handles most employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t get paid, unless you recover.
This article is solely for educational and informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice, nor should it be construed as a substitute for advice of counsel. The article is also written as a broad overview of the law and is not an exhaustive examination of any of the topics addressed. Klaproth Law PLLC recommends that all readers seek specific advice from Klaproth Law PLLC about their particular legal issues.