OpenJurist

Are men and women supposed to be paid the same?

The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. Job content (not job titles) determines whether jobs are substantially equal. All forms of pay are covered by this 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.

If there is an inequality in wages between men and women, employers may not reduce the wages of either sex to equalize their pay.

Virtually all private employers, federal, state and local government agencies, and labor organizations are covered by the Equal Pay Act (EPA), which makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform substantially equal work in the same workplace.

An individual alleging a violation of the EPA may go directly to court and is not required to file an EEOC charge beforehand. The time limit for filing an EPA case is within two years of the alleged unlawful compensation practice or, in the case of a willful violation, within three years.

Equal Pay/Compensation and Sex Discrimination

Title VII also makes it illegal to discriminate based on sex in pay and benefits. Therefore, someone who has an Equal Pay Act claim may also have a claim under Title VII.

Other Types of Discrimination

Title VII, the ADEA, and the ADA prohibit compensation discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. Unlike the EPA, there is no requirement under Title VII, the ADEA, or the ADA that the jobs must be substantially equal.

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