At this time of the year, when the 2016 Olympics are approaching, there has been controversy over equal opportunity as it relates to pay for various United States teams. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim charging the U.S. Soccer Federation with violations of the Equal Pay Act. Their complaint stated that they received only $2 million while winning the entire 2015 World Cup Competition and the men’s team was paid $9 million despite losing in the first round. The defense by the Federation’s President was that over a four-year world cup cycle the men’s team generates more revenue than the women’s team.
Regardless of who wins, it brings up the issue of equal pay as it relates to employment law. The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The jobs need not be identical but they must be substantially equal. Certain factors that come into play when determining pay are skill, effort, responsibility, working conditions, and the entire business or enterprise.
There are actually five major federal laws addressing equal pay and compensation, including the Equal Pay Act. The Act applies mainly to employers with 15 or more employees.
Every employer should review their pay practices in light of the Equal Pay Act and other federal, state and local laws. Any discrepancy should be corrected. Employers should do the following:
1) Understand the laws;
2) Institute a policy prohibiting wage discrimination;
3) Make decisions based on skill and performance;
4) Train supervisors and managers to avoid wage discrimination;
5) Document guidelines and requirements for salaries and bonuses;
6) Be aware of state and local laws prohibiting wage discrimination;
7) Document and be ready to defend all employment decisions;
8) Audit pay practices;
9) Aim to hire an integrated and diverse work force;
10) Provide timely and effective performance evaluations; and
11) Do not prohibit employees from discussing wages.
Pay differentials can be justified and permitted when they are based on seniority, merit, quantity or quality of production, or any other factor other than sex.
Finally, it should be noted that it is unlawful to retaliate against any individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on compensation.
Terry joined the practice in 1974. His areas of focus include personal injury law, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, business law, corporations, and adoptions. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, United States District Court Western District of Kentucky, United States Court of Military Appeals, and all Kentucky courts.
A Hardin County native and former Army office in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Terry graduated from William and Mary in Virginia with an undergraduate degree in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest Law School in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated with honors.