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Understanding pay discrimination and what is prohibited

| Feb 10, 2020 | Wage & Hour Laws |

Pay discrimination in Texas is illegal under state and federal laws. Unfortunately, it continues to be a problem in many workplaces. People who learn that they have been paid less than their coworkers for the same work might have grounds to file discrimination claims.

The federal Equal Pay Act requires employers to pay employees who are performing the same work as each other equally. The job requirements rather than the titles the employees have are what determines whether equal pay is warranted. Courts compare the skills, education, effort, responsibility, and working conditions of the jobs to determine whether they are the same. If they are, the workers should be paid equally. Differences in pay are allowed when they are based on merit, the quality of work performed, or seniority.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and several other federal laws also prohibit pay discrimination based on protected statuses, including national origin, race, religion, color, disability, sex, pregnancy, genetic information, and age if over 40. Facially neutral compensation policies that have a disparate impact on members of a protected class are also prohibited. For example, an employer that pays workers who are heads of households more for their work may be considered to be discriminatory if they have a disparate impact on the pay received by female workers.

Wage and hour laws are meant to protect the rights of workers to be paid equally when they perform the same work at a company. People who believe that their employers have paid them less than others in the same or similar jobs might want to talk to experienced employment lawyers. An employment attorney may be able to evaluate the facts and offer an honest assessment of the claim’s merits. If he or she agrees to accept representation, the attorney might help his or her client gather evidence to support his or her claim and to file a complaint.

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