Topic of the Week Pay or Compensation Discrimination
Pay or compensation discrimination occurs when employees performing similar work do not receive similar pay. Pay discrimination also occurs when a difference in pay has an unlawful basis such as race or sex. Pay discrimination based on an employee's membership in a protected category like race, disability, or sex, is prohibited by anti-discrimination laws. Relevant laws include Title VII, the ADA and ADEA, state anti-discrimination laws, and the Equal Pay Act which specifically addresses pay discrimination based on sex. What is pay or compensation discrimination?
Pay/compensation discrimination occurs when employees performing substantially equal work do not receive the same pay for their work. It is job content and not job titles that determine whether or not jobs are substantially equal. Federal law looks to see that individuals performing jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, responsibility, and under similar working conditions are compensated equally for their time. Discrimination can occur due to sex or race, which are both prohibited under federal law. All forms of pay are covered by the law, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits.
Is it illegal to give different benefits to male and female employees?
Employers are not allowed to condition benefits available to employees and their spouses and families on whether the employee is the “head of the household” or “principal wage earner” in the family unit, since that status bears no relationship to job performance and discriminatorily affects the rights of female employees.
An employer cannot make benefits available:
- for the wives and families of male employees where the same benefits are not made available for the husbands and families of female employees;
- for the wives of male employees which are not made available for female employees; or
- for the husbands of female employees which are not made available for male employees.
It is also against the law for an employer to have a pension or retirement plan which establishes different optional or compulsory retirement ages based on sex, or which differentiates in benefits based on sex.
Am I protected against retaliation under the law?
Yes, It is unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on compensation or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII, ADEA, ADA or the Equal Pay Act.