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Same job duties not always necessary to show pay discrimination

A basic example of pay discrimination in New York presents two co-workers in similar positions with substantially different salaries. When the person with the lower salary falls within a protected class, this could be a discriminatory pay practice. The wage discrimination experienced by some people, however, might not fit into such a clear cut scenario. A ruling by a federal appeals court has established the standards for possibly proving pay discrimination based on something other than substantially similar work duties.

A female employee, who worked as a vice president, had initially lost her case on a summary judgment. The first judge had dismissed her suit because she could not show that she performed the same work as the male executives at her company. On appeal, the court recognized that the law could accept other evidence of unequal pay. The male executives received compensation above what the market typically supports for their positions, and the company had paid the woman less than the market rate. The employer could not provide any plausible business reasons for paying her less.

Additionally, the man who oversaw salary decisions was known to make discriminatory remarks and jokes about women. The documented discriminatory behavior combined with her abnormally low pay prompted the appeals court to decide in her favor.

Employers can be creative when they want to conceal pay discrimination. A consultation with an attorney might increase a person's understanding of workplace rights and reveal how to take legal action. Unequal pay represents only one type of violation of wage and hour laws. An attorney might confront an employer over failure to pay minimum wage, overtime or bonuses. A complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission might enable a client to recover compensation.

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