If your employees essentially perform exactly the same function, yet some are paid less than others, it may be time to compare pay and experience in your workplace. Then, adjust pay accordingly. That’s the best way to short-circuit an Equal Pay Act (EPA) lawsuit.
This is especially important in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, which ruled that employees must file pay-disparity cases as soon
as they discover that sex discrimina-tion may affect the pay scales in their workplace. Employees now know they can’t wait long to file.
Recent case: Julie Boumehdi was the only female press operator work-ing for Plastag Holdings, and also had the most prior experience. When a supervisor saw that she was paid less than male employees, he gave her a raise and told her that would fix the problem.
Later, Boumehdi accidentally left her pay stub out and was upset when co-workers laughed at how little she made. The next lowest-paid press operator earned $2 more per hour. She sued, alleging the company was violating the EPA.
The 7th Circuit sent her case to trial after reasoning she had good grounds for the lawsuit. First, the job she held was identical to her male co-workers’ jobs. Second, she had the most total experience operating a press. Finally, there was no logical explanation for the obvious disparity. (Boumehdi v. Plastag, No. 06-4061, 7th Cir., 2007)
Bottom line: Fix pay disparities right away, before you get sued.
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