If an employer is paying men and women differently for doing the same job, an affected employee may be able to file a claim under the federal Equal Pay Act. There are also other federal and Arizona laws that prohibit discriminatory compensation practices based on gender and other protected characteristics.
Elements of an Equal Pay Act Claim
To bring an Equal Pay Act claim, you do not have to be performing exactly the same job as the person who is being paid more than you. The jobs must be substantially equal, based on the job content and function, rather than just the job title. An employer cannot avoid an Equal Pay Act claim by simply giving workers different titles who are performing substantially the same job duties.
To determine if the jobs are substantially equal, the court or commission will evaluate the skills, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. The employer also has a number of affirmative defenses available to defeat a claim, including providing compensation based on a seniority system, merit system, productivity, or another factor other than the employee’s gender.
For example, two salespeople who have substantially equal job duties may receive different compensation levels if their pay is based on commission. An employer would have the burden of proof to show that the commissions were based on productivity and that the unequal pay was not based on the worker’s gender.
Other Unequal Compensation Claims
Arizona law also provides for an unequal pay claim based on gender, codified in A.R.S. § 23-341. This statute bars unequal pay based on gender for employees who perform the same quantity and classification of work.
The Arizona law also provides that unequal pay based on differences in job duties or other nondiscriminatory factors exercised in good faith is not prohibited. The employee has the burden of showing that the unequal compensation was based on the factor of their sex, and not on other factors.
In addition, other federal laws—such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act—prohibit employment discrimination based on other protected characteristics. This would include compensation discrimination, and these laws apply to a broader range of protected characteristics than the Equal Pay Act.
Each type of discriminatory compensation claim will have its own procedures and deadlines for bringing a claim. You may have a limited time to file your claim or bring a lawsuit, so consult with an employment law attorney promptly to discuss your case.
Chernoff Law handles business and employment law matters throughout Arizona. Contact us to discuss your case with an experienced business litigation attorney.