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Mere guessing at compensation disparity won’t help employee win EPA lawsuit

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in Compensation and Benefits,Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Here’s some good news. A court has quickly dismissed a pay disparity lawsuit that a university mathematics professor filed accusing her university of paying male faculty more than their female colleagues.

Recent case: Christina sued the State University of New York over what she alleged were Equal Pay Act (EPA) violations. She claimed that the university paid her and other female mathematics professors less than male professors.

However, Christina apparently didn’t have any figures to back up her claims. Instead, she relied on her own guesses and assumptions about university pay policies.

The court tossed out her claim. Under the EPA, the employee must show that the employer pays different wages to employees of the opposite sex who perform equal work on jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility, and are performed under similar working conditions. Christina couldn’t even get past the initial hurdle of showing different wages. (Suzuki v. State University of New York, No. 08-CV-4569, ED NY, 2013)

Final note: The professor also tried to expand her lawsuit to include all other female professors who had worked at the university, going back five years.

The court tossed out that claim, too.

Under the EPA (unlike the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act), employees can only go back two years after their last allegedly lower paycheck or three years if a court believes the employer acted “willfully.” They can’t sue for long-ago lower paychecks.

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