Discussions regarding pay equality among men and women often only focus on how to improve workplaces for employees in the private sector. Although the federal sector doesn’t get the same amount of coverage when it comes to this topic, there were a few important decisions issued by the EEOC in 2019 that involved Equal Pay Act (EPA) claims.
When the Commission decides on the merit of an EPA claim, it must first determine if the complainant can satisfy the elements of a prima facie case. This means that the person who filed the complaint was paid a lower wage than a person of the opposite sex for equal work. In Mercedez A. v. USDA, EEOC App. No. 0120170574 (Mar. 7, 2019), it was established that “equal work” is work that requires “equal skill, effort, and responsibility, under similar working conditions within the same establishment.” EPA claims also do not require the complainant to prove intent. According to Mercedez A. v. USDA, “[I]ntent to discriminate is not a necessary element to prove an EPA violation.”
However, federal agencies can avoid liability for unequal pay if they can prove the difference was due to:
- A seniority system
- A merit system
- Quantity or quality of production based earning system
- Any factor other than sex
To prove the violation wasn’t based on the employee’s gender, an agency “must establish that a gender-neutral factor, applied consistently, in facts explains the compensation disparity.”
It is important to note that there is a 45-day deadline for federal employees who want to file an EPA claim. However, each reported violation restarts the deadline. This means that you need to contact an EEO counselor within 45 days of receiving an unequal paycheck.
Need Help Resolving An Equal Pay Dispute?
The lawyers at The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC can assist if you want to file an equal pay claim against a federal employer. Our legal team has been serving clients across the nation for 30 years, and we will gladly take the time to sit with you to discuss all of your options under the law. We are ready to protect and defend your rights so you can focus on your career.