2021Equal Pay

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On February 3, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – an agency that advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – announced that two hotel management firms would pay $400,000 and provide extensive non-monetary relief to settle an equal pay discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC, according to a press release from the EEOC.

Aimbridge Hospitality, LLC and AH 2007 Management, LP (collect­ively known as Aimbridge) – the former operators of a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Monroe, Louisiana – are based in Plano, Texas, and manage hotels nationally and internationally. The EEOC charged that the hotel management firms paid a male worker 38 percent more than his female supervisor and at least 60 percent more than his female coworkers.

The EEOC’s lawsuit claimed that Aimbridge paid a male guest service representative $15.25 per hour while paying a female front desk supervisor and female guest service representatives $11 or less per hour. Aimbridge eventually began paying the female supervisor $16 per hour, but unlawfully re­duced the pay rate of the male representative rather than increasing the pay rates of the female repre­sentatives, as the law requires.

The conduct of the hotel management firms alleged by the EEOC violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibit sex-based wage discrimination. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Civil Action No. 19-914) on July 16, 2019, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Monroe Division, after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Employers must prevent sex-based pay disparities,” Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office, stated in the press release. “And when such inequities do occur, employers need to correct them immediately by increasing the pay of the lower-paid employee.” Preventing pay discrimination is one of the priorities identified in the EEOC’s Strategic Enforce­ment Plan for 2018 to 2022.

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 gender pay gap.

As of February 2021, salary history question bans exist in many major American cities. In addition, Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin have passed statewide laws. HRDive keeps a list of states and localities that have salary history bans.

“When an employer has a background screening firm perform past employment verifications, it is critical that firm knows which cities, counties, and states prohibit salary history questions, or else that employer could be fined,” explained background check expert Attorney Lester Rosen, the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) and the author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’

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. ESR’s three levels of verifications afford its clients the flexibility to customize their verifications through unique business rules. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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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