To ensure equal pay in the workplace and that all employees are paid fair and equal wages based on their position and skill, employers should implement and enforce a policy prohibiting wage discrimination based on an employee’s membership in a protected class.
Anti-discrimination regulations that can impact equal and fair pay practices include the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A claim under Title VII, the ADEA, the ADA, or the Rehabilitation Act, must first be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (federal or state). The EEOC processes allegations of discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, disability, age, and religion. By law, the EEOC must accept the filing of any charge from any employee no matter how weak the claim. The EEOC may investigate the claim and take action on it, or may advise the employee to seek his or her own attorney and proceed on their own. After the charge is filed, the EEOC will send the employer a copy of the charge, and instructions regarding the employer responsibilities. The burden of proof will be on the employer.
Under Title VII, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate based upon his or her race, national origin, gender, or religion and this will apply to hiring and firing decisions, disciplinary actions, training, promotions/demotions, harassment and all pay decisions.
The federal Equal Pay Act requires any employer that is already subject to the federal wage and hour Fair Labor Standards Act to provide equal pay to men and women who perform “equal work,” unless the difference in pay is caused by differences in seniority, merit or other factor that is not based on gender.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies to employers with twenty or more employees and bars discrimination against employees or applicants who are over the age of forty.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act bar discrimination against those with disabilities. The ADA bars discrimination by private employers with more than fifteen employees, and the Rehabilitation Act applies to all government entities and federal contractors. If an employee or applicant proves they have a disability, he or she is protected from discrimination and entitled to “reasonable accommodation” for the disability if necessary.
Employers should familiarize themselves with the federal laws and also with the state and city laws in which they operate. To avoid wage differentials based on sex, race, national origin or any other protected class, ensure that the differentials can be justified by legitimate and nondiscriminatory reasons such as seniority, skill and experience. Salary guidelines or bonus requirements need to be well documented and based on fair, objective, predictable and measurable criteria. Supervisors and managers should be properly trained on how to avoid wage discrimination and how to make employment decisions based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons.
All pay decisions should be carefully documented, as proper records will serve as a defense for a wage discrimination claim. Performance evaluations should document clearly set expectations as well as how the employee has been measured or evaluated. Frequent audits of pay practices should be performed ensuring pay differentials are based on legitimate and nondiscriminatory factors as well as supported by written documentation.
At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives and that your pay practices are fair, equitable and non-discriminatory. We can provide your business with compensation surveys and salary reports to help you establish a budget for your merit pay program, including bonuses and incentives. Our innovative company is a leader in the collection of data for surveys and salary reports, which allows us to provide services to a wide range of industries in both the private and public sector. To learn more about our compensation surveys, salary reports and other services, please call 480-237-6130 or contact us online.