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How Employers Violate the Equal Pay Act

August 6, 2020 Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages


The Equal Pay Act is a federal law that requires men and women working substantially equal jobs to receive equal pay. The law covers salaries as well as other types of compensation, such as insurance benefits, stock options, bonuses, and commissions.

However, despite these laws, there is still a pay gap. Depending on how the numbers are crunched, women in the US earn as much as $0.82 or as little as $0.51 to a man’s $1.

Here’s a look at how the Equal Pay Act works, and why some employers still get away with paying women less.

What Counts as “Substantially Equal”?

Two jobs do not have to be exactly the same to be considered equal for the purposes of the Equal Pay Act.

In general, for two jobs to be considered “substantially equal,” they should require fundamentally equal levels of effort, responsibility, and skill, and should be performed under similar conditions.

Employers can get away with paying one employee more by tacking on a few extra duties to one person’s job. Under the law, it’s legal to pay more for extra duties.

However, some courts have noticed and penalized employers who consistently tack nominal extra duties onto jobs held by men and not women.

What Does “Equal Pay” Mean?

Under the EPA, men and women have to receive equal pay for equal work—but there are all kinds of reasons an employer might pay two workers different rates for the same job that, ostensibly, have nothing to do with gender.

Some reasons one employee might legally be paid more than another for the same job include:

  • Higher productivity or better performance
  • A higher level of education
  • More experience
  • Higher seniority

Employers sometimes use one or more of these reasons as cover for paying women less than men. This may be on purpose, or because of unconscious biases regarding an employee’s value, level of authority, competence, and other factors.

Why There’s Still a Wage Gap

The reasons behind the lingering pay inequity between men and women are too complex for the EPA to eliminate entirely. Those reasons are hotly debated, but some include:

What to Do If Your Employer Is Violating the EPA

If you believe your employer is violating the Equal Pay Act, you should talk to an attorney who specializes in employment law.

A knowledgeable employment lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation, determine whether your employer has broken the law, and help you hold them accountable.

Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.