To win an Equal Pay Act (EPA) case, an employee must prove:
- The employer pays different wages to employees of the opposite sex.
- The employees perform equal work on jobs requiring equal skill and effort.
- The jobs are performed under similar working conditions.
An employee who sues under the EPA can’t pick and choose to whom she compares herself—for example, by selecting a man who holds the same job who happens to make more. She must consider all men and women in the same job classification.
Recent case: Jotica worked as a pathologist at Staten Island University Hospital. She complained when she learned that a male pathologist was earning more than she was.
Soon after, she learned that her contract would not be renewed. She sued, alleging EPA pay discrimination violations and retaliation for complaining about unequal pay.
The hospital argued that Jotica’s original complaint had nothing to do with nonrenewal of her contract. She hadn’t obtained a certification that she knew she needed long before she filed her complaint.
As to the equal pay claim, the hospital argued that she couldn’t point to just one male pathologist who earned more. She had to consider all male pathologists doing the same job under similar conditions. It turned out that the men did not, as a group, earn more than their female counterparts. Two men made considerably less than Jotica; a woman was paid more than all of them.
The court threw out Jotica’s lawsuit. There was no evidence that female pathologists earned less on average than males, even if Jotica earned less than one of her male colleagues. (Talwar v. Staten Island University Hospital, et al., No. 14-1520, 2nd Cir., 2015)
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