Because of a quirk in the way the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act () have been amended over the years, female workers classified as exempt computer professionals under the FLSA can’t sue their employers for EPA violations.
If your employees meet the exemption, you don’t have to worry about whether female computer professionals are paid on par with male peers.
Recent case: Sue Downes sued JPMorgan Chase, claiming the company violated the EPA by paying her less than males who performed the same job.
Chase classified her as exempt under the FLSA’s computer-related profession category and argued the EPA didn’t apply to computer professionals.
A federal judge agreed. Legislative history showed that the EPA was part of the FLSA’s minimum-wage provisions and written so persons classified as exempt weren’t covered. When the EPA became law, Congress said it didn’t apply to.
In the 1970s, an amendment added exempt professional, administrative and executive employees to EPA’s scope. But the FLSA didn’t exempt computer professionals until the 1990s. Congress didn’t specifically amend the EPA to include the new category, so the judge concluded it doesn’t cover computer professionals. (Downes v. JPMorgan Chase, No. 03-Civ-8991, SD NY, 2007)
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