You don’t have to pay all managers equally unless jobs are substantially similar

by on
in Compensation and Benefits,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Performance Reviews

In an ideal world, all jobs with like responsibilities would be compensated equally. But companies don’t operate in an ideal world, and competing demands for talent mean some professional positions warrant higher paychecks than others.

As the following case shows, the Equal Pay Act (EPA) doesn’t require all positions on the same line of the organizational chart to be paid the same.

Recent case:
Deanne Mikols went to work for Reed City Power Line Supply in the HR office as the manager. Her tenure was rocky—upper management considered other management functions more important than HR. Ultimately, the company fired Mikols for alleged poor performance.

Mikols sued, claiming she had been paid less than comparable managers within the company. She claimed that violated the EPA.

But the court tossed out her case. It reasoned that only those jobs that are substantially similar must be paid the same. Mikols tried to compare her job to that of safety and risk assessment managers, but the court said those are fundamentally different positions requiring different educational backgrounds and experience. (Mikols v. Reed City Power Line Supply, No. 1:07-CV-84, WD MI, 2008)

Final note: A good example of equivalent positions are nurse practitioners (NPs) and physicians’ assistants (PAs). More women hold NP licenses; more men hold PA licenses. But both professions have similar educational requirements and perform similar, almost identical health care functions, such as administrating medication, performing basic physicals and prescribing some medications. They are functionally equivalent, so the EPA requires equal pay.

Leave a Comment