Compensation discrimination in employment is prohibited by the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, all enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Collectively, these statutes require employers to compensate employees without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.
The law against compensation discrimination includes all payments made to or on behalf employees as remuneration for employment. All forms of compensation are covered, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits.
Equal Pay Act
The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. It is job content, not job titles, that determines whether jobs are substantially equal. Specifically, the EPA provides:
Employers may not pay unequal wages to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment. Each of these factors is summarized below:
NOTE: Filing a charge with the EEOC under the EPA does not keep your time to file a lawsuit from running out. If you feel your rights under the EPA have been violated, you should contact an employment lawyer immediately.
Title VII, ADEA, and ADA
Title VII, the ADEA, and the ADA prohibit compensation discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability. Unlike the EPA, there is no requirement under Title VII, the ADEA, or the ADA that the claimant's job be substantially equal to that of a higher paid person outside the claimant's protected class, nor do these statutes require the claimant to work in the same establishment as a comparator. The basic theories of disparate treatment and adverse impact generally apply to compensation discrimination claims under these statutes.
Employees who believe they are under-compensated because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability may file a charge with the EEOC.
Employers are encouraged to evaluate their compensation systems to ensure that the compensation of employees is based on nondiscriminatory factors. Employers also should evaluate practices that may indirectly depress the compensation of employees in protected classes. For example, employers should make sure that promotion decisions, performance appraisal systems, and procedures for assigning work are non-discriminatory.
Information on training, information for small businesses, and other information can be found on the EEOC's Internet web site at www.eeoc.gov.