Am I Protected by the Equal Pay Act
As an employee, you are almost certainly protected by the federal Equal Pay Act or the Ohio Equal Pay Act. Both versions of the law, which are usually abbreviated as EPA in each incarnation, apply to employers of all sizes and in all settings. This includes government agencies, nonprofit and religious organizations, private businesses, schools, labor unions, and employment agencies/temp services. If you need a Columbus employment attorney, call us today at 614.610.9755.
The few exemptions written into the federal EPA reference specific positions and place strict limitations on the type of work performed and on how the employee receives his or her salary and financial benefits when ruling a person exempt from EPA protection. If an employer in Ohio tells you are exempt from equal pay laws, consult with a Columbus equal compensation attorney about substantiating that claim and exploring ways to secure the pay that may be yours by right.
What Does the EPA Protect?
The federal EPA, passed in 1963, makes it illegal to pay employees who do essentially the same work for the same employer in the same location different hourly rates or salaries because they are of different sexes. The language of the law has been interpreted to cover employees of the same organization who work in different physical locations but in nearly identical environments, such as accountants who work onsite but report to a manager in a central office. The fine points of such interpretations can be referred to an equal compensation lawyer.
When the EPA took effect, its intent was very much to eliminate the then-common practice of paying women less than their male co-workers simply because they were women. The law, however, makes it illegal to pay a man less than a woman when both employees hold the same position.
Ohio’s version of the Equal Pay Act outlaws pay differentials based on an employee’s sex, of race, color, religion, age, national origin, or ancestry.
How Is Pay Equity Determined Under the EPA?
The EPA lays out a four-part test for determining whether employees hold positions that are similar enough to demand equal pay. These tests are:
- Skill: What do people need to be able to do to accomplish job-related tasks? Even if one employee has better credentials like an advanced degree and foreign language fluency, those attributes cannot be used to justify higher pay if they are not used in the job.
- Effort: What are the physical and mental demands of the job? A person who does more heavy lifting or has a higher degree of autonomy when completing tasks can earn more than a co-worker with the same job title but different demands.
- Responsibility: How accountable will an employee be when problems occur? The differences in responsibility must be significant to justify unequal pay, such as the difference between keeping track of all the people who have keys to the office instead of simply having a key.
- Working Conditions: Are workers subjected to the same physical surroundings and subject to the same hazards?
Establishment: Does each worksite maintained by the employer meet the same standards for physical environment, hazards, skills, effort, and responsibility? Think back to the accountants mentioned above. An office is an office unless one is located in a construction trailer and the other is in a downtown office building. That kind of difference could justify a pay differential.
When Can an Employer Justify Different Pay for Similar Work?
An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission fact sheet on the federal EPA states, “Pay differentials are permitted when they are based on seniority, merit, quantity or quality of production, or a factor other than sex. These are known as ‘affirmative defenses’ and it is the employer’s burden to prove that they apply.”
When an EPA complaint is filed with EEOC or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the employer has the obligation to state a provable affirmative defense for any confirmed pay differential. Working with an experienced Columbus equal compensation attorney while writing position descriptions and setting pay scales can prevent many legal headaches for small businesses.
What Remedies Are Available Under the EPA?
Succeeding with an EPA claim can result in an award of back pay, a guarantee of increased pay going forward, monetary damages, and an order for the employer to reclassify/retitle positions. The one thing an employer can never do is lower any employee’s pay to achieve compliance with equal compensation laws.
Anyone who believes employment discrimination has resulted in his or her being paid less than colleagues who do the same job should request a free, confidential consultation with an equal compensation lawyer at the Columbus, Ohio, offices of The Friedmann Firm. Appointments are available by calling 614.610.9755 or by completing this online contact form.
Rachel and Dominick were incredibly helpful throughout the entire process. They got back to me quickly, whenever I had questions, which helped me stay calm during a very stressful time. Rachel was confident in her abilities and knowledge of the labor laws, and she was able to secure a settlement for me. If you ever find yourself in a situation that requires you take action against an employer, I would highly recommend the Friedman Firm. There's no one I would recommend more to be in your corner.
If you are in need of an employment attorney, this is your sign to talk to Rachel and Jamie. Amazing!! They handled my case like the true professionals they are! They stuck to a strategy, even when it seemed like it wasn’t going our way and BAM! We get the outcome we wanted. I couldn’t be happier and I will always return to them if I EVER have an employment issue again. Thank you so much for helping me and my family!
Dedicated! Thorough! Detailed! Professional! Personable! I can keep going with the many qualities Pete and his team have. I highly recommend him!!! You won't be disappointed.
I needed an employment lawyer to work through a non compete. Pete at The Friedmann Firm was listed as one of the three best rated employment lawyers on a local website. I called him in the morning and later that night he was on the case and provided sound council through a very tense negotiation. Don’t take a chance with your career, reach out and get good council. Pete was very responsive every step of the way and delivered positive results. I highly recommend Pete and his Firm!
Rachel was top-notch from start to finish. She was responsible, professional, quick to respond to emails, texts or phone calls. She gives it to you straight, which I prefer! She thinks outside the box and is definitely the dog you want in the fight for you. She does not waste time and immediately dives right in to get the best results she can for you. I would highly recommend Rachel and her firm to anyone who wants to get the job done right, the first time, in a professional, compassionate and decisive manner.
My wife used this firm for a matter she had with her former employer. She could not have been more satisfied with their services. They were timely in responses, courteous, and very thoughtful. This was a difficult process for her and Pete made it so much easier by handling all of the details of her case.
Rachel Sabo of The Friedmann Firm believed in me when no one else did & helped me through every step of my legal process. Very happy with the firm’s professionalism & dedication to my case.
I called them with some questions about my employment and Jamie was very helpful. I didn’t need an attorney to handle a case for me - only to help me navigate an issue I was having at work. She answered my questions and I felt she truly listened to me. I’d recommend this firm to anyone looking for an employment lawyer. Thank you!
Pete resolved issues I was having with my employer in a quick and favorable manner. He is also easy to talk to and understands his clients rights AND needs. You’d do right to call The Friedmann Firm.
I had a terrific experience with Rachel. She handled my case in a very professional manner. She made herself available and always kept me updated. Her knowledge of the law is incredible. She took the time to educate me on the legal processes so I understood what was happening with my case. Thank you Rachel for helping me navigate a most difficult situation. I am so thankful to have had you as my attorney. You have my highest recommendation.