Filing Equal Pay Act Violation Complaints
*****Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client privilege.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963, and all the amendments and state legislature that have built upon it since then, protect the right to fair compensation. This law makes it illegal for employers to base pay or benefit differentials on demographic reasons, like gender or ethnicity. It also requires that employers show valid reasoning for why there are any differences in the wage rate between employees doing the same kind of work. If you are someone who feels you are being paid unfairly based on your sex, race, etc. than you can file an Equal Pay Act Violation Complaint.
There are a few things that could qualify as a violation of the Equal Pay Act, not just a difference in a flat salary or wage rates. The first and most obvious violation would be paying an employee or employees less than another employee, based on their gender. Denying an employee insurance, pension benefits, or other benefits based upon demographic differences would be another violation. Even treating one demographic of employees better than another or other discrepancies in payment, treatment or other work culture and benefits could be considered a violation. Some of things you can cite in your complaint might include differences in wage rates, bonuses, profit sharing, insurance coverage, benefits, use of company equipment, and vacation time.
If you want to move forward with filing a complaint, there are several things that you must be able to provide proof for, preferably as documented evidence. First you must prove that you receive less payment than another employee of a different gender, ethnicity or other qualifying demographic. You must prove that the difference is based on gender, not on some other valid factor like a difference in education, experience, seniority or other qualifying reason. You must be able to prove that the type of work was performed under comparable working conditions. Finally, you must be able to prove the work was of the same nature, requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility.
Though you do not need all the evidence listed above to file a claim, these things are important if you want your violation claim to be successful. The best way to prepare a strong argument for your case and to ensure success is to prepare the evidence listed above as completely and with as much verifiable documentation as possible. It should be prepared before you proceed with filing, because the employee/complainant has the burden of proof, not the employer.
There are a variety of applicable and verifiable documents you might gather when preparing for such a case. First, any documents relating to salary or compensation like pay stubs, payment receipts, employment contracts and company employment policies. You can also include other documentation not directly from work, like a copy of your bank statements or deposit receipts. You may also gather anything that relates to this topic, like copies of communications with your employer about payment. These can include emails, written documents, voicemails, texts or other verified messages. Finally, you can cite other people. They must provide a statement regarding the situation. People you might ask would be workers in human resources, supervisors or co-workers.
There is a statute of limitations on Equal Pay Act Violation Complaints. You must officially initiate the filing within two years of the alleged violation. For violations over a period of time, you could consider the start date of this window of opportunity as the date of the most recent pay violation or the date of when you discovered it. You should definitely consider hiring an attorney if you hope to be successful in your claim.
If you want to see for yourself the form necessary to begin the complaint process, check out this link. https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/EPA_Complaint_Form.pdf After filing, you can expect an investigation to ensue and a letter from the Laborer Commissioner letting you know who your complaint was assigned to. You will most likely be interviewed and present your evidence. You can expect a conference and hearing, followed by a determination regarding your case.
Assuming they decide in your favor, the DSLE will work with the employer to enforce the decision. If you lose, you do have the option to appeal your case. You should also know that you are protected from your employer taking retaliatory action against you for filing a complaint or investigating prior to doing so.