President Obama declared April 9, 2013 as Equal Pay Day to highlight the discrimination women currently face in equal wages for equal work. It is said that women make 77 percent of what their male counterparts make, and face discrimination in benefits, wage increases and time off. This Handout [2013_04_11_11_04_27] from the Lawyer’s Club of San Diego’s Equal Pay Day Luncheon and outlines and summarizes the pay discrepancies.
In an attempt to combat this discrimination The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) was created allowing any employee (male or female) adversely affected by a covered employer’s failure to pay equal wages to employees of different genders performing the same jobs to bring an action against the employer . More recently, President Obama signed into law the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which expands the time frame in which employees can sue for discriminatory compensation under Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
So what does this mean for you as the employer? Why should you be concerned? Well, as the employer you should be aware and sensitive to the salaries, benefits and time off each member of your team receives. It may be easy to even unintentionally overlook an imbalance between similarly-situated genders; and a failure to close whatever gap may exist could be costly. If a current or former employee brings action for discrimination based on gender under any of the above Acts, it could be tremendously costly and time consuming for you.
In an action under the EPA, a prevailing employee can receive back pay, interest, attorney’s fees and litigation costs. Where the court finds a lack of good faith, an employee can recover “liquidated damages” by way of doubling the back pay award. This can be extended to three years of doubled back pay when the violation of the EPA is willfull.
For example, in Cooke v. United States, the Plaintiff, a former female Director, who alleged her former employer willfully and in bad faith discriminated against her by paying her less than similarly-situated https://sbcompliance.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php(all) male Directors. The Plaintiff was awarded a $446,0oo judgment for her lost back pay, lost retirement benefits and the court also extended her damages back three years and doubled the award.
You don’t want your organization to incur a liability and cost such as that. Be aware of any unfair treatment between the genders in your workplace and make other managers and supervisors aware of the risks as well. You should review your employment manuals and procedures to ensure compliance and risk minimization.
For more information: Small Business Compliance Services, Inc.