Florida Equal Pay Act Claims Attorney (EPA)
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 was signed into law by John F. Kennedy. The EPA generally requires covered employers to provide equal pay to persons performing the same job regardless of gender. Contact our Florida Equal Pay Act Claims attorney for more information.
Although the Equal Pay Act protects both women and men from sex discrimination in pay rates, it was passed to help rectify the wage disparity experienced by women workers, and in practice, this law has almost always been applied to situations where women are paid less than men for doing similar jobs.
Since the EPA is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who files a claim under the EPA or cooperates with an investigation of such claim.
Do you have a claim?
To successfully raise a claim under the Equal Pay Act, you must show that you and an employee of the opposite sex are:
- working in the same place
- performing the same (equal) work, and
- receiving unequal pay.
There are justifiable reasons for paying employees different rates for performing the same work. For example, seniority or experience can be a legitimate reason for a pay disparity. Or, if your employer has a merit system based on production, that could be a legitimate reason to pay some employees more than others. However, if the employer can show that the wage disparity has a legitimate basis — for example, that the higher earner has more seniority or more experience — the claim will be defeated.
Are you really performing the same work?
Jobs do not have to be identical for courts to consider them equal. If two employees are actually doing the same work, it doesn’t matter if their titles or job descriptions differ. The primary focus is whether the employees are performing the same job duties. Jobs have been found to be “equal” when both require equal levels of skill, effort, and responsibility and are performed under similar conditions. Obviously, there is room for interpretation here. But generally speaking, minor differences in the skill, effort, or responsibility required do not make two jobs unequal. A common hurdle that EPA litigants face is when the comparator job includes a few extra job duties. That could justify a pay disparity.
Are you being paid less than someone else performing the same job?
In addition to salaries and hourly rates, if employees do equal work, they are also entitled to equal fringe benefits, such as equal health and life insurance coverage, retirement plans or pensions, profit sharing, bonuses, pre-tax medical or dependent care savings accounts, vacation and PTO, and equal use of company equipment.
But remember, although the EPA requires that employers pay workers at the same rate, it doesn’t necessarily require that employees receive the same total amount of compensation. For example, if one worker earns more than another because of higher productivity, resulting in more sales, that would not not violate the EPA.
Other anti-discrimination laws
The EPA was passed one year before Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Both laws prohibit wage discrimination based on gender, but Title VII goes beyond ensuring equal pay to barring discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, and more. In addition, Title VII broadly prohibits other forms of discrimination, including that based on race, color, religion, and national origin.
Suing Under the EPA vs. Title VII
In cases where both Title VII and the EPA apply, using the EPA offers some potential advantages, including:
- You can file suit immediately under the EPA. Title VII cases require that you first file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Then, you must wait for the EEOC to investigate and ultimately issue you a Notice of Right to Sue, which can sometimes take several months (even years).
- EPA cases may be easier to win in Court. It’s somewhat of a strict liability law where you do not have to prove that your employer intentionally discriminated against you by paying you less. In Title VII cases, you must prove intent.
If you are considering a lawsuit under the EPA, Title VII, or both, you should probably discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of each law with an experienced labor and employment attorney.
What am I entitled to if I win?
Under the EPA a prevailing employee can receive back pay, interest, attorney fees, and litigation costs. Where the court finds a lack of good faith, an employee can recover back wages in the amount of double the back pay award (called “liquidated damages”). Where the court finds a willful violation of the EPA, the award can extend back pay to cover the prior three years (instead of the normal two years). Contact our Florida Equal Pay Act Claims attorney for more information and assistance.