Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
On April 1, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – announced that a manufacturer of diesel engines, Cummins, Inc., will pay $77,500 to settle an EEOC equal pay discrimination lawsuit for allegedly paying a female employee less than a male performing the same work, according to an EEOC press release.
EEOC Equal Pay Discrimination Lawsuit
“Employers should provide men and women in the same workplace with equal pay for equal work,” Faye Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, stated in the press release. “Not only is it fair, it’s the law. As the fight against unequal pay in the workplace continues, the Commission remains committed to challenging pay disparity until we realize the goal of wage equality.”
The EEOC filed the lawsuit to obtain relief for a former female employee who worked for Cummins at its Business Services facility in Nashville, Tennessee. The EEOC charged that Cummins paid her less than a male employee even though they performed the same job duties in violation of The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibit wage discrimination based on sex.
Along with the monetary relief, Cummins – which denied any liability or wrongdoing in the lawsuit – entered into a two-and-a-half-year consent decree requiring the company to train its employees and management on the requirements of the EPA and Title VII. Cummins also agreed to report complaints of pay discrimination to the EEOC and permit the EEOC to monitor the firm’s compliance with the decree.
The announcement from the EEOC about the settlement in the equal pay discrimination lawsuit came one day before Equal Pay Day – the symbolic day dedicated to raising awareness about the gender pay gap in the United States – which was held on April 2, 2019, to symbolize how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. The exact date differs from year to year.
Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. Since the latest wage figures are not available until late August or September, the NCPE decided to select a Tuesday in April as Equal Pay Day. For more information about Equal Pay Day, see the NCPE’s Equal Pay Day Kit or contact the NCPE.
According to the NCPE, the gender wage gap has narrowed by less than one-half a penny per year in the United States since Congress passed the EPA while statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that women earned 80 percent of what men earned in 2015. As a result, laws prohibiting employers from asking applicants about salary history will increase in the U.S. as the equal pay movement spreads.
Bans on employers asking about salary history have passed in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Louisville, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. Salary history bans have also passed in the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
“If new pay is based on previous pay, then gender pay gaps are perpetuated. The goal of equal pay laws is to base compensation on the work performed and not rely on previous pay that may reflect gender discrimination,” explained Attorney Lester Rosen, the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) and the author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’
“When an employer has a background screening firm perform past employment verifications, it is critical that firm knows which cities, counties, and states prohibit such questions, as well as software that facilitates compliance with equal pay laws, or else that employer could be fined,” said Rosen, noting that this trend was chosen by ESR as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2019.
ESR Employment Verifications Comply with Equal Pay Laws
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – offers employers flexible and customizable employment verifications that provide the salary history of applicants only if permitted by state and local equal pay laws. To learn more about employment verifications from ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Verifications-References/.
NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.
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