What federal statutes prohibit equal pay and compensation discrimination?

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Question:

I work at a job where the employer provides extra compensation to single parents with provable child care expenses.  I don’t begrudge my co-workers this benefit, but I still feel it is unfair because I can’t get this extra money because I don’t have any children.  Am I being selfish or is this really a violation of employment law?

 

Answer:

You could benefit from a consult with a plaintiff’s employment attorney.  You could have a viable claim under federal anti-employment discrimination laws.

The right of employees to be free from discrimination in their compensation is protected under several federal laws, including the following enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The laws against compensation discrimination includes all forms of compensation are covered, including salary, overtime pay, benefits, bonuses, reimbursement for business expenses and stock options. 

Compensation discrimination under the EPA, CRA. ADEA, and/or ADA can occur in the manner you describe.  An employer can violate statutory equal pay mandates if it maintains even a “neutral” compensation policy or practice that has an adverse impact on employees in a protected class and cannot be justified as job-related and consistent with business necessity.  For example, your employer seems to be providing extra compensation to employees who are parents of dependents and the primary financial contributor to the household.  This practice could violate federal employment law because it has an unlawful disparate impact on childless employees. 

A plaintiff’s employment attorney can advise you regarding the complexities of the applicable federal statutes; you may also be able to make unequal pay claims under a state statute.  You may find yourself in proceedings before a state agency, a federal agency and/or a civil court; it would be best to have a well-prepared and consistent litigation strategy.

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