In a world where equality is increasingly recognized as a fundamental right, wage discrimination remains a persistent issue. This blog post delves into the complexities of wage discrimination, with a particular focus on the gender pay gap, and explores the legal avenues available for those seeking justice.
Understanding Wage Discrimination
Wage discrimination occurs when employees are paid differently based on gender, race, age, disability status or other protected characteristics, rather than their skills or job performance.
Wage discrimination applies to all forms of compensation (not just salary and hourly pay), including:
- Overtime pay
- Stock options
- Paid leave
- Reimbursement for work-related expenses like travel and hotel accommodations
Despite numerous laws designed to prevent it, wage discrimination persists, particularly affecting women and minority groups.
The Gender Pay Gap
One of the starkest examples of wage discrimination is the persistent gender pay gap. Several laws address wage discrimination, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. This includes instances where there is a pay disparity between different jobs that share an equal amount of responsibility.
Yet according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, women earn approximately 84 cents for every dollar earned by men. This gap is even wider for women of color. The reasons behind this disparity are complex, involving factors like occupational segregation, bias in hiring and promotions, and the undervaluing of work traditionally done by women. Regardless, the pay gap remains despite the fact that multiple federal and state laws explicitly forbid wage discrimination.
California Equal Pay Act and Fair Pay Act
The California Equal Pay Act, originally passed in 1949, provides even more stringent protections for workers than those provided by federal law. In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Fair Pay Act, which strengthened the existing law in several important ways. This includes eliminating the requirement that the employees being compared work at the same establishment, creating additional burden on employers to demonstrate that the entire pay difference is due to legitimate factors not related to sex or other protected characteristics, and adding additional protections against workplace retaliation.
How Can I Prove Wage Discrimination?
The critical element in proving wage discrimination is demonstrating that one employee’s position and responsibilities are equal to another despite the existence of a pay disparity. This includes proving that the roles require the same ability, effort and commitment, and that the employees in question produce the work under the same working conditions.
Documented evidence is important when building a case for wage discrimination. Documents with information like job titles, roles and responsibilities are helpful for establishing substantial similarity and/or equal responsibility.
When to Contact an Employment Law Attorney
If you believe you have received unequal pay for equal work, you should reach out to an employment law attorney immediately. The statute of limitations varies for filing a case against your employer for wage discrimination, so time can be of the essence.
The legal system can be complex and intimidating to navigate on your own. An experienced employment law attorney will help you understand your rights and explain the best course of action, as well as gather the necessary evidence to build your case.
At Girard Bengali, APC, we have extensive experience in employment law matters and are committed to fighting for individuals who have suffered due to unfair workplace practices. We have a long track record of getting significant results for victims of employment misconduct, and we are here to listen to your case and help you get the compensation you deserve.