Assert Your Right to Fair Compensation—Equal Pay for Comparable Work

Ensuring Fair Compensation Regardless of Gender

At Merrick Law Firm LLC, we staunchly support the principle that men and women completing the same tasks are entitled to equal compensation. The Equal Pay Act (EPA), an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act established in 1963, which can be found in the legal text at 29 U.S.C. § 206, enforces this standard by mandating that employers remunerate male and female employees equally when they perform the same work.

While the EPA safeguards all genders against salary discrimination, it primarily addressed the income inequality women historically faced in the workplace. As a result, legal cases under this Act typically address scenarios where women receive lower wages compared to their male counterparts for comparable jobs.

Who Benefits from the EPA

The reach of the Equal Pay Act includes nearly all employees across the United States, governing the actions of state, local, and federal governments, in addition to the majority of private-sector employers.

Filing an EPA Claim

To file an assertive claim under the EPA with Merrick Law Firm LLC, evidence must indicate that a male and female employee:

  • are employed at the same location,
  • perform tasks judged as equivalent, and
  • experience a disparity in their earnings.

However, note that an employer may contest a claim by presenting a reasonable explanation for the wage difference, such as differing levels of experience or tenure between the employees.

Determining Comparable Work

In the eyes of the court, job titles or descriptions are secondary to the actual responsibilities an employee fulfills. Therefore, positions are considered equivalent by the EPA’s standards when tasks involve comparable skill, effort, and responsibility and are carried out under similar working conditions.

Although interpretations vary, a basic rule has emerged: minor differences in job requirements do not necessarily alter the comparable status of two roles. Issues arise when jobs are fundamentally identical but one has a few extra tasks. Paying more for additional responsibilities is lawful, but scrutiny may occur when there appears to be a gender-based pattern in role allocation.

Defining “Equal Pay”

According to the EPA, equal pay implies consistent earning rates, not necessarily identical total compensation. Thus, when a worker’s higher earnings reflect superior productivity—such as achieving more sales—this does not constitute a breach of the EPA’s directives.

In addition to salaries, the EPA stipulates that equivalent fringe benefits must be provided, including healthcare, life insurance, retirement plans, tax-advantaged medical or dependent care accounts, and access to company facilities.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act builds on the EPA’s foundations, broadening the fight against income discrimination by encompassing all facets of employment, such as recruitment, promotions, and dismissals. Title VII also addresses discrimination stemming from race, color, religion, and national origin, further solidifying the legal framework prohibiting unfair treatment.


Consider Suzanne, a reservations specialist with an airline, who discovers that her male counterparts earn an extra dollar per hour and are not subject to the same dress code that the female employees must follow. An EPA claim from Suzanne would address the wage difference, while Title VII would cover the broader scope of the pay disparity and the discriminatory dress code enforcement.

Litigating with the EPA versus Title VII

In scenarios where both the EPA and Title VII apply, an EPA lawsuit has particular advantages, such as bypassing an obligatory complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and not needing to prove the employer’s intentional discrimination. Nevertheless, Title VII could lead to a larger financial settlement due to the possibility of compensatory damages for your emotional distress, an aspect the EPA does not cover.

Given the intricacies of both legal routes, consulting with a skilled attorney at Merrick Law Firm LLC to navigate your case will be beneficial.

For deeper insight into equal pay and gender discrimination, Merrick Law Firm LLC advises reaching out to the local EEOC field office and your state fair employment agency while bearing in mind that the information herein serves as a general guide and should not replace professional legal counsel. To discuss the current legal landscape and its application to your situation, connect with us at (312) 269-0200.

Leveling the Playing Field for Employees

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