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Understanding law for wages is key for employers

In New York and across the nation, the public is inundated with stories about employees being mistreated. While workers have the right to receive everything they are entitled to under the law, be free from workplace discrimination and not be subjected to mistreatment, employers have rights, too. When there are allegations that employers have violated the law, it is critical to have legal advice from a firm that understands both sides of the dispute.

The Equal Pay Act is designed to give the same pay to males and females who do the same work in the same establishment. It is not based on identical work, but the jobs should be substantially the same to be subject to this law. Titles are irrelevant. It is the job itself that is important. There are multiple factors that are considered with the EPA.

Skill, experience, education, training and ability to perform the work are all considered. The foundational factor is the job and what skills are needed to perform it. If a certain degree is not required to do a job and one person has the degree but another person is doing the same job and does not, then the pay should be the same. Effort relates to how much exertion is expended in a physical or mental way. If a male or female can both expend the effort and do the job, there should be no pay disparity. Responsibility refers to how accountable a person is regarding requirements, such as collecting money. When there are minor differences that are relatively meaningless like opening and closing a store, it is not sufficient to validate a difference in pay.

Employers accused of violating the law for equal pay do have affirmative defenses available to them. If the difference in pay is not based on gender, then the employer can pay people differently. If the person earning more is a senior employee, has earned more pay based on merit, has greater production in quality or quantity, or there is another factor that has no connection to gender, it is a viable defense. The employer has the burden of proof to show that the disparity is due to the work and not gender.

Employers accused of paying one gender less than the other can face a lawsuit, have disgruntled workers and have a negative perception in the community. It is essential to defend against these alleged violations. Having legal advice from a law firm that understands employment law for employers can help craft a defense and should be contacted immediately.

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