Equal Pay Act (EPA)
The Equal Pay Act protects women from being paid less wages than their male counterparts for jobs which require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions. According to a recent report by the United States government, the sad truth is that “full-time women workers’ earnings are only about 77 percent of their male counterparts’ earnings. The pay gap is even greater for African-American and Latina women, with African-American women earning 64 cents and Latina women earning 56 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian man.”
All forms of compensation are covered by the EPA. An employee seeking EPA relief can look to differences in hourly wages, salaries, the value of benefits, vacation and holiday pay, bonus programs, travel expense payments and other pay forms. In addition to forbidding an employer from paying female employees less wages for similar work, the Equal Pay Act also makes it unlawful for employers to give its women less hours of work (which affects the total amount they are paid by the company), even if the female employees paid the same hourly or salaried rate of pay as men.
An employer cannot retaliate for filing an EPA claim or cooperating with an EPA investigation. In addition, if there is an improper pay difference, an employer cannot lower wages to equal out employees’ pay.
Similar to other wage laws, the EPA allows workers to bring their lawsuit collectively, as a type of class action. The statute of limitations, or time allowed for filing or joining a lawsuit under the EPA, is within two years of when the alleged EPA violation took place. A three-year limit applies for willful violations of the law.
If you win your EPA case, the court may award you damages for back pay or wages, and an equal amount in liquidated damages, along with attorney’s fees and costs. So-called “equitable relief,” such as ordering your employer to stop certain conduct, may be ordered as well.
If you believe you, your mother, daughter or any female family member, friend or neighbor, was not paid equally when working for an employer, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.