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Check pay rates for employees who regularly swap work

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in Compensation and Benefits,Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) outlaws wage discrimination based on sex. Employees who allege EPA violations must show that they receive lower pay than a comparable employee of the opposite sex. That comparable employee must perform substantially equal work in the same establishment as the employee charging discrimination.

Under those terms, employees who switch workloads as needed and share supervision are probably comparable employees. Check to make sure there’s no sex discrepancy in their pay.

Recent case: Judy Ames worked as part of a team of nine Verizon employees responsible for packaging and preparing software for distribution. They all had the same supervisor even though some worked in different geographic locations. Team members frequently shifted workloads. They all had similar skill sets and responsibilities.

Ames was the only female on the team. She was paid $6,700 less per year than her lowest-paid male colleague—and $22,297 less than the average salary of the male group members. Although Ames received good reviews, she ended up being the one employee selected for a reduction in force. She sued, alleging EPA violations.

The trial court said she had enough evidence to go to trial. It was clear that all team members were essentially interchangeable. The court said Ames should be able to compare her situation to the others on her team in an effort to show that they should have been paid equally. (Ames v. Verizon Data Services, No. 8:07-CV-00698, MD FL, 2008)

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