A new employee for my same position is hired. He has no degree and is younger, but is getting paid more. is this discrimination?

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Question:

I think I’m the victim of sex discrimination in the form of unequal pay.  I’m a woman with a college degree, and I’ve been in my job for 3 years.  A younger guy with no degree was just hired to do the same job as me, but he’s getting paid five dollars more per hour than me.  Does Florida have a law specifically for unequal pay complaints?

 

Answer:

Florida's equal pay statute (Florida Statutes section 448.07) parallels the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA). Both statutes provide that victims of gender-based discrimination may recover the differential between the wages paid and the wages which should have been paid for a maximum of one year prior to filing suit. Both statutes permit the claimant to bring a civil action directly without the requirement of exhausting the administrative processes.

Florida’s  Equal Pay Act applies only to jobs in the same “establishment”  that involve equal work.   “Establishment” is not just a question of whether the jobs happen to be in the same box on an organizational chart.  Florida law defines an establishment as a distinct physical place of business or "enterprise" – this could include several separate physical portions of a business that work together to form a single business enterprise.  In making this determination, the EEOC would consider such factors as the degree of central administrative control of hiring, setting wages, and assigning locations; the interchange of employees between work locations; the identity of daily duties; and similar working conditions.  Employers may not reduce the wages of members of either gender to equalize pay between men and women, and a violation of the EPA may occur where a different wage is paid to a person who worked in the same job before or after an employee of the opposite sex.

The Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) handles EPA complaints.  Further, in addition to the EPA, another Florida statute bars inequal pay.  Florida Statutes, section 725.07(l), makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of "sex, marital status or race” by failing to provide "equal pay for equal services."  Unlike the EPA, this statute affords a remedy for wage discrimination on grounds other than gender.

You should consult an employment rights attorney before you file any complaints with any government entity.  After your attorney has had the opportunity to investigate and assess your claims, you could ultimately find yourself with complaints before the FCHR, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and/or a civil court.  Your litigation strategy should be consistent throughout the forums.

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