Pay Discrepancies

Pay discrepancies happens when workers doing equally equivalent jobs do not earn the same compensation for their work. Job content and not job descriptions decide whether or not workers are significantly equal. Federal legislation looks to ensure that people performing work that demand relatively comparable abilities, skill, obligation and under identical working conditions are equally compensated for their time. If you believe you have experienced a pay discrepancy at you prior job, you may be entitled to compensation. 

Pay discrepancy discrimination can occur on the basis of sex or race, all of which are illegal under federal law. All types of pay fall under the scope of the law in the United States, including wages, overtime pay, bonuses, equity options, profit share and incentive plans, life insurance, leave and holiday pay, and benefits.

On top of local laws, there are federal rulings enacted to ensure that you will not incur a pay discrepancy. Title VII refers to all private employers, state and local governments and educational institutions which employ 15 or more individuals. These regulations also apply to private and public jobs agencies.

In addition, the Equal Pay Act-requires equal pay for equal jobs for men and women in the same establishment. Jobs do not need to be identical, but they need to be significantly equal. It is the quality of the work, not the title of the job, that decides whether the positions are significantly equal. If you have a pay discrepancy compared to a coworker that you believe is due to race, gender, religion, or another protected class, you may be entitled to a workers' compensation claim. 

Victims of pay discrepancy discrimination can recover remedies to include back pay, hiring, promotion and more. 

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How Do You Handle Pay Discrepancy at Work?

The wage and hour division of the Department of Labor (DOL) will investigate any potential case of wage discrepancy if a complaint is filed. Examples of pay discrepancy include any of the following:

  • wage is less than the minimum wage;
  • overtime rates are not correctly paid;
  • wages are not paid on a regular basis;
  • pay stubs are not issued when wages are paid;
  • wages not paid on termination of employment;
  • wages withheld in retaliation for whistleblowing, or after filing for workers’ compensation following a workplace injury or illness;
  • wages paid under what was included in an employment contract or agreement.

If you believe you have experienced pay discrepancy at work, you do need to have evidence of it and have made an attempt to resolve it with your HR department or your employer directly. Examples of evidence include pay stubs showing inconsistent pay rates, or insufficient wages, your signed employment agreement showing what your wage was supposed to be, correspondence with your employer, such as letters, emails, text messages, etc.

It is better to file your complaint with an office of the DOL as soon as possible when evidence is fresh. You can visit the hours and wage division office in person or phone them to discuss your complaint. If the DOL thinks that your experience indicates that employment legislation has been breached, then they will initiate an investigation. This involves assessing evidence, contacting the employer, holding conferences and enforcing the legislation.