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Federal and state law requires equal pay for equal work

| Oct 7, 2020 | Firm News |

State and federal employment and labor laws cover various forms of discrimination. New York has an especially robust system. This blog has gone over many of those protections, but for this entry, we are focusing on the mandate for equal pay for equal work.

Equal pay discrimination

Specifically, the Equal Pay Act and Equal Pay Provision of the New York State Labor Law, require that both women and men must be paid equally in the workplace for equal work. Of course, this does not mean that the jobs themselves necessarily have to be identical. Instead, the work need only be substantially equal.

Job titles do not necessarily matter

A key factor here is that this analysis relies on the content of one’s job, not one’s job title. For example, if a male work has the title of supervisor, and that worker supervises 10 employees. If a female co-worker without a supervisory title also supervises 10 employees, that female co-worker may have a case for compensation discrimination, depending on the rest of their workplace conditions and duties. The key takeaway, however, is that the law looks to what the job entails, not the necessarily one’s place in a hierarchy or title.

All forms of payment are covered

Another important consideration is that these laws do not just apply to pure compensation, like salary, bonuses and overtime pay. In fact, they cover all forms of compensation, like stock options, life insurance, profit sharing, insurance, vacation and holiday pay. These laws go further too by including allowances and reimbursements for cleaning, travel, gasoline, hotels, travel expenses and any other similar benefit. For example, in the prior example, even if both workers are paid the same, if the male supervisor gets stock options and additional vacation and holiday pay, the female co-worker may have a discrimination case.

Cannot just reduce compensation

The gut reaction of some managers is to just reduce the other person’s wages or benefits. However, this is not an allowable reaction. The underpaid co-worker’s compensation must be equalized by increasing their compensation.

Vindicating one’s rights

Staten Island residents that face pay discrimination has the option to go directly to court because there is no requirement to file an EEOC charge. But, one can file a charge with that federal agency, or their local New York State Department of Labor, Division of Labor Standards, New York City District.