Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
On August 30, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – filed a pay discrimination lawsuit that claimed a packaging company violated federal law by allegedly paying a female senior employee less money than it paid a male employee who held the same position, according to a press release from the EEOC.
The EEOC claimed the Bryce Corporation hired a male employee as a senior business analyst in June of 2016 and paid him an annual salary of $122,500. One month later, the company hired a female employee for the same position but paid her approximately $18,000 less per year than the male employee. When the woman learned of the pay disparity, she requested equal pay but was refused an increase in her salary.
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in the payment of wages. Pay discrimination also violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination such as compensation on the basis of sex. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Bryce Corporation from discriminating against female employees in the future and monetary damages.
“President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law more than 56 years ago, calling attention to the practice of paying female employees less than male employees for performing the same job,” Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, stated in the press release. “The EEOC remains committed to eradicating sex-based wage discrimination.”
In July of 2019, the EEOC filed a pay discrimination lawsuit that claimed the University of Miami – a private university that is one of the largest employers in Miami-Dade County, Florida – violated federal law by paying a female political science professor at the school less than a male counterpart for performing equal work even though they were both awarded promotions at the same time.
In May of 2019, the EEOC announced a Kansas school district agreed to pay $11,250 to settle a wage discrimination lawsuit that claimed a female principal was paid less than male principals for the same job at the same school. This conduct violated the EPA, which prohibits employers from paying women and men unequally for a job with the same required skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.
According to the National Committee on Pay Equity (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 in 1963. 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 about salary history have increased to narrow the gap.
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, Maine, 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, or else that employer could be fined,” said Rosen, noting that the growth of laws prohibiting employers from asking about salary history was chosen by ESR as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2019.
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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