The gender discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown understand that employees in New York have the right to be free from discrimination when it comes to their compensation. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces several federal laws that protect this valuable right. The laws include the Equal Pay Act (EPA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
These laws prohibit compensation discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability and additional protected classes. When an employee faces compensation discrimination of any kind, the individual can file a complaint with the EEOC and possibly a lawsuit against the employer.
Gender discrimination can occur in many different ways but exists under Title VII when an employment decision is made based on the sex of an individual. For example, “I will take you off this project unless you sleep with me” would be sex discrimination. “I do not hire women as managers” would also be discrimination. An employment decision may include:
Sexual harassment is also a form of gender discrimination when it creates a hostile work environment and is unlawful under Title VII.
Under the Equal Pay Act, gender discrimination may occur when an employer pays men and women different amounts for the same work. According to Forbes, “On a percentage basis, the average woman earns only 79% of what a man earns. This means that for every $5 a man makes, a woman earns less than $4. For women of color, the losses are even steeper.” The EPA and Title VII exist for a reason.
At the New York law firm of Leeds Brown, our attorneys have new decades of experience representing clients and helping them to pursue discrimination claims against their employers. If you think you have been the victim of gender discrimination in the workplace, under Title VII or the Equal Pay Act, consider speaking with someone in our office to determine if you have a viable case.
At Leeds Brown, our team-based, hands-on approach means that our clients receive personal, responsive, and professional representation. Our track record of successful outcomes demonstrates our strong commitment to passionate advocacy for discrimination victims.
Gender discrimination under Title VII and violations of the Equal Pay Act sometimes go hand in hand. But the EPA has a distinct set of rules, definitions, and evidentiary requirements.
The Equal Pay Act states,
“No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions…”
The EPA makes it clear that male and female employees must receive equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The EPA covers all forms of compensation including salary, bonuses, profit sharing, bonus plans, health insurance, life insurance, holiday pay, vacation, allowances, travel reimbursement, and other benefits. The jobs do not have to be identical to fall under the EPA. They must be substantially equal.
Experienced gender discrimination attorneys know that employers throughout New York and nationwide try to avoid their obligations to pay men and women equally by assigning them different titles or job descriptions. Under the EPA, however, you must look at the substance of the work performed – the effort, skill, and responsibility – when determining if discrimination is occurring, not the job descriptions or titles.
For example, a man works as a “sales manager” for a large company making $40,000 per year. His job description includes “responsible for a team of sales staff.” He holds daily meetings with his team, produces and analyzes daily reports for the president of the company, has the power to hire and fire workers on his team, does their reviews, fields their questions, does their training, and sets their goals and schedules.
A woman works as a “senior sales associate” for the same company in the same building but on a different floor. Her job description includes “supervising sales staff.” She performs the same tasks as the manager including overseeing a team of sales people. She makes $30,000 per year. Because she is being paid less for work that appears to be substantially equal, under the same working conditions, within the same establishment, her employer may be violating the Equal Pay Act.
How do you determine whether jobs are substantially equal? What do the EEOC and courts look for when they evaluate a claim? There are five factors to consider under the EPA:
Skill – According to the EEOC, skill is measured by the experience, ability, education, and training necessary to perform the job. The important issue is what skills the job requires – not what skills the employees possess.
For instance, two accounting positions may be equal even if one employee has a doctorate in chemistry because the job does not require that degree.
Effort – Effort includes the amount of mental or physical exertion necessary to perform the job.
The EEOC provides the following example, “Suppose that men and women work side by side on a line assembling machine parts. The person at the end of the line must also lift the assembled product as he or she completes the work and place it on a board. That job requires more effort than the other assembly line jobs if the extra effort of lifting the assembled product off the line is substantial and is a regular part of the job. As a result, it would not be a violation to pay that person more, regardless of whether the job is held by a man or a woman.”
Responsibility – Responsibility in this context means the amount of accountability required in the job.
For instance, a sales clerk who has the sole duty to grant or deny credit to customers has more responsibility than the other sales clerks and may receive higher pay. However, a small difference in responsibility, such as turning off the lights may not support unequal pay.
Working Conditions – Working conditions include the physical surroundings such as temperature, ventilation, fumes and noise. Considerations when analyzing similar working conditions also include the presence of hazards.
Establishment – Remember, compensation discrimination is unlawful under the EPA only among jobs within an establishment.
According to the EEOC, an establishment is “a distinct physical place of business rather than an entire business or enterprise consisting of several places of business.”
There are times, however, when you can treat physically separate places of business as one establishment. For example, when a “central administrative unit hires employees, sets their compensation, and assigns them to separate work locations, the separate work sites can be considered part of one establishment.”
There are clear exceptions to the EPA that allow men and women to receive different compensation in a non-discriminatory manner. Employers accused of violating the EPA use these exceptions as affirmative defenses. They are:
Discrimination attorneys who specialize in gender discrimination can help if you are the victim of unequal treatment by your employer in NY. It is important to note that the Equal Pay Act has different requirements and factors than other anti-discrimination laws such as Title VII. You may have a claim under one and not the other. Speak to experienced sex discrimination attorneys to find out what your rights are and how you can enforce them. You may be able to recover monetary damages including back pay.
The NY gender discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown have devoted decades to protecting the rights of employees in our state and across the nation. Our seasoned professionals love what they do, and it shows in their hard work and zealous representation.
There are time limits on filing claims so call today for your free case evaluation. You can reach a sex discrimination lawyer in New York at 1-800-585-4658. Someone is here to take your call 24/7.