As an employer, you do everything in your power to ensure that your profit margin remains healthy and your day-to-day operations run as smoothly as possible. Indeed, this means not only paying careful attention to things like inventory and sales figures, but also taking steps to minimize your legal exposure.
This is particularly true in relation to employees, as those employers who engage in any sort of conduct could be classified as discriminatory leave themselves open to potentially costly litigation that can disrupt operations, harm morale and adversely affect their bottom line.
In recognition of this reality and the need for employers to protect their interests, today’s post, the first in a series, will start providing some basic background information on the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and designed to protect against compensation discrimination.
The EPA dictates that men and women working in the same establishment performing the same work must receive the same pay. While this seems straightforward enough, it’s actually considerably more complicated than you might imagine.
First and foremost, the jobs in question are not required to be identical, but rather substantially equal. The determination as to whether the jobs are substantially equal, however, doesn’t hinge on anything as simple as job titles, but rather on the content of the job itself.
So what exactly does this mean?
At its core, the EPA dictates that men and women must receive equal compensation for performing jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions within the same establishment.
In our next posts on this subject, we’ll examine exactly what is required under each of these factors and some of the affirmative defenses available to employers accused of violating the EPA.
In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you are an employer with questions or concerns about how to address employee discrimination, harassment or retaliation claims.