You work a job to receive a salary. It is reasonable to believe that you and your fellow co-workers will receive equal pay for an equal day’s work. When you are paid less than your co-workers for the same job, your employer has violated the law. Federal and local laws protect your right to equal pay as your co-workers in the same or similar positions, regardless of race, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, age, military status, or any other protected class. For over 25r years, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group in New York City have helped employees, just like you, get the compensation they deserve.
When Does Discrimination Effect Equal Pay in New York City?
Logically, if you work a job and your co-worker works the same job, and you both started around the same time, you would get the same compensation, right? In a perfect world where everyone followed the law, the answer would be yes. However, there are many times in which the answer is no. Many employers may use other measures, not related to your ability to do a job, to determine your pay rate. Some of these measures may include:
- Gender identification
- Sexual orientation
- National Origin
- Age (over 40)
- Military status
- Citizenship status
These are known as protected classes and cannot be used to determine pay in any way. When an employer does not pay two employees equal compensation for an equal day’s work, he is in violating the law and discriminating against employees based on protected classes.
The standard federal law that protects employees from discrimination is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under this law, employers of 15 or more employees cannot discriminate against employees because of their status as members of a protected class. This included unequal pay based on the above-mentioned protected class statuses.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is another law that protects men and women from receiving unequal pay based on their gender, if they work for an employer with 15 or more employees.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects people over 40 from receiving lower compensation based on their age.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 also protects employees with disabilities from receiving different compensation simply because of their disabilities.
The New York City Human Rights Law protects employees in a company within New York City limits with 4 or more employees from discrimination that affects their compensation.
Finally, there is the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, in which the Supreme Court determined that the time limit to file a claim under any of the federal laws would be extended each time a new paystub was issued with the unequal/illegal compensation.
Proving equal pay violations is more than simply showing that a person makes more money than you. You must be able to show that there is not a legal reason and that the unequal compensation is based on you being a member of a protected class. This can be done through direct evidence, disparate evidence, or policy evidence.
- Direct Evidence. This is very rare, however, it can be the most helpful evidence for your case. Direct evidence is often called, “the smoking gun.” It is when you are told verbally or in writing that the reason your pay is not equal to your co-worker is because of your gender, race, or some other protected class status. This can come in writing or by verbal communication. It can be said directly to you or you can accidentally hear or see the communication about you.
- Disparate Evidence. This evidence is much more common. Disparate evidence occurs when you can show a pattern of a cause and effect relationship between the equal pay violations and your status as a member of a protected class.
- Policy Evidence. Policy evidence is when a policy causes discrimination in pay to arise. For instance, if the policy states that all women are to start as entry-level employees with a pay of $X per hour and all men start as associated with a pay of $Y per hour and there are no other reasons for the differences in title or pay than gender, this is a discriminatory policy and can be used as evidence in your case.
Sometimes, it is legal to pay two employees different wages. While it may look that they are doing the same job on the surface, there may be differences that can legally allow different pay rates. Some of these reasons include:
- If an employee has been at a job longer than another employee they will have different pay rates.
- If an employee comes in with more experience that can be proven, they may receive a higher pay rate
- Different duties. Some employees are provided with supervisor roles, which give them more responsibilities and different duties than their co-workers. They will receive different compensation for their increased responsibilities.
Equal pay violations are more than not getting the same pay rate for the same day’s work. It can be related to allowing employees to discuss salaries, benefits, or even asking about prior salary history in the interview process. Here are some examples of compensation violation in New York City:
- Paying a woman less than her male co-worker who works in the same position and started at the same time as she did
- Denying a woman benefits for her spouse while allowing men to obtain benefits for their spouses
- Setting in place a policy that denies employees the right to discuss salaries amongst themselves
- Terminating an employee that complained about a lower pay rate
- Only allowing certain races of employees to work in certain positions which would always equal lower pay rates, even if they are more qualified for other positions
- Refusing pay increases to employees over 65 for no reason other than age
- Limiting a disabled person’s hours which would not make them eligible for benefits as part of their promised compensation package
- Instituting a “glass ceiling” policy which prevents minorities in your company from achieving higher salaries
Whether you are filing a claim under Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, The Americans with Disabilities Act, or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, you must start with filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Because the claim is in New York City, the time limit to file the claim is 300 days instead of the typical 180 days, since New York has a law that emulates Title VII. However, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act has extended this statute of limitations to allow the 180 days to start over every time a payroll check is issued with unequal pay rates, potentially extending the time limit indefinitely, or until you are no longer working with the company and no longer receiving pay from that company.
If you wish to file a claim under the New York City Human Rights Law, you must file a claim with the New York City Human Rights Commission. You have one year to file a claim. New York City has a work-sharing agreement for equal pay violations, wherein wherever you file the claim will then submit the claim to other entities to give your claim the best chance for justice.
New York City courts want to make sure you are compensated for the hours you worked and compensated appropriately. Therefore, there are several remedies available through the courts for equal pay violations, including, but not limited to:
- Reinstatement of employment and/or benefits
- Reimbursement of benefit premiums
- Termination of individual responsible for equal pay violations
- Review and revamp company policies affecting compensation
- Reimbursement of medical and other related expenses
- Attorney’s fees
- Back pay
- Future pay
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
If you file a claim for equal pay violations, the lawsuit can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to a year or longer to settle. If your employer is willing to negotiate a fair settlement before going to trial, your case may settle in as little as 4 to 6 months. However, if your employer insists on going to court, your case may take 8 months to a year or longer to prepare for trial. The trial may then last anywhere from a few days to several weeks or longer until a judgment is entered.
While you decide how to handle your compensation claim, here are a few things you can do right not to help your case.
- Contact an experienced employee compensation attorney immediately.
- If you are still employed, do not quit your job before consulting with your attorney.
- If your company has an HR department, file a written complaint for equal pay discrimination.
- If your company has a policy dealing with equal pay discrimination, follow it.
- Gather evidence. Document every incident, including what occurred, where and when it occurred, who was involved, and any witnesses.
- Do not waste time Your time to file a claim is limited. Do not wait until it is too late.
Contact Our Experienced Equal Pay Discrimination Attorneys in New York City for Your Free Consultation
All employees deserve to be compensated appropriately for the work they do. If you are the victim of equal pay violations in New York City, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group (one of FindLaw’s top firms for employment discrimination) can help. We have helped our clients win over $165,000,000, and we want to help you. Contact us today at (212) 587-0760 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case.
Different Types of Workplace Discrimination Cases We Handle:
- Race Discrimination
- Color Discrimination
- National Origin Discrimination
- Religion Discrimination
- Age (over 40) Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Gender or Sex Discrimination
- Sexual Orientation Discrimination
- Genetic Information Discrimination
- Ethnic Discrimination
- LGBT Discrimination
- Hair Discrimination