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Beware class action if you pay young men more than experienced women

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Now that every paycheck can become the basis for a new equal pay claim, smart employers are proactive about making sure they base compensation on factors other than sex, age or some combination of those factors.

They check to see that within the same job categories, no particular group or individual is paid more than others similarly situated. They immediately correct any discrepancies they find.

Otherwise, the likely outcome is that a group of employees will join forces to file a complicated and time-consuming class-action lawsuit.

Recent case: Five workers sued when New York Bancorp decided to reduce its workforce and terminated 265 employees based on what it said were poor performance reviews.

Each had individual claims, but they also shared common ones based on what they believed was discrimination in discharge against older female workers in favor of younger men. The plaintiffs alleged that younger men who were hired or ­promoted earned more than older, more experienced women.

The court refused to dismiss the cases, in part because the women also showed some had complained about pay disparities and had been ignored. Still others testified they had heard a manager comment that “a working woman needed to know what her priorities were.”

Together, the ignored complaints, the comment and the pay differences gave the women enough to proceed with the lawsuit alleging sex and age discrimination. (Garnett-Bishop, et al., v. New York Bancorp, No. 12-CV-2285, ED NY, 2014)

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