Equal pay is not simply a “women’s issue.” Instead, equal pay for equal work is an economic issue. In California alone, female workers would earn an additional $33.6 billion per year if they were paid the same as their male counterparts. In addition, equal pay is a matter of protecting our families. Women are the primary or sole breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children under the age of eighteen. What we pay — or don’t pay — women ends up having far reaching effects that touch all of our lives.
While some exceptions apply, equal work is generally defined under federal law as jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions. Unlike other discrimination laws, the Equal Pay Act does not require any proof of intent; only proof of unequal pay for equal work is required. Additionally, under federal law and the laws of some states, it is illegal to pay women less than men for equal work. Despite this, statistics show that women still made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men in the U.S. as recently as 2017.
Protections against unequal pay at the federal level, include the collection of salary data from large employers by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (allowing that agency to spot corporations with pay disparities). Additionally, federal contractors, subcontractors and federally assisted construction contractors are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against an employee because the employee inquired, discussed or disclosed his or her compensation to another employee. In addition, the National Labor Relations Board protects employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act from employer retaliation when they discuss wages or working conditions with their colleagues as part of a concerted activity to improve them.
Some individual states, including California, have Equal Pay Act laws that provide greater protection than federal law. The states of California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont, for example, have enacted “pay secrecy laws” that prohibit an employer from preventing workers from talking amongst themselves about pay. This provides greater protection against retaliation and covers all situations that prohibit or discourage employees from discussing pay.
If you believe you are being paid less than a male counterpart, Andrus Anderson attorneys have experience to determine whether your rights have been violated and, if so, the remedies to which you may be entitled. To report discriminatory pay or for more information about how the Equal Pay Act may protect you, please click here. All calls are confidential.
There is a time limit to filing equal pay lawsuits so please do not delay if you are concerned about this happening to you.
Andrus Anderson in the News
An L.A. Times article discussing Andrus Anderson’s Farmers Insurance Equal Pay win quoted Joan Williams, an expert on workplace gender issues and a professor at University of California Hastings College of Law: “This is a substantial victory, and a good model going forward.”
The Farmers Insurance settlement, approved in 2016, was the culmination of more than twelve months of intense litigation on behalf of female attorneys who were paid less than their male counterparts, even though they were performing the same work.
In addition to compensating the women who were not paid equally, the settlement forces Farmers to alter certain business practices that will address and improve the insurance giant’s pay transparency and the working lives of their female litigators.