Wage Discrimination Based on Race or Gender

Employees are supposed to be free from compensation discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, or disability. These rights are protected by the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Yet despite all these protections, it’s well documented that there are significant wage disparities between men and women, and between white people and people of color. This also means that the pay gap is worst for women of color.

If you believe you have been a victim of workplace discrimination based on race or gender, it’s important that you hire a skilled and experienced employment discrimination attorney who can help you pursue a claim against your employer.

Wage Discrimination Claims Based on Sex or Gender: The Equal Pay Act and Title VII

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender, and require that men and women be paid equally for equal work. However, because there are important differences between the two laws it’s important that you work with a knowledgeable and experienced employment discrimination attorney who knows the differences between the two, and can advise you on the best way to proceed.

The Equal Pay Act

To prove wage discrimination under the Equal Pay Act, an employee must show that men and women are being paid different amounts for work that is almost identical, under the same working conditions, and in the same establishment.

Unlike other discrimination claims, a Right to Sue Letter is not required to bring a claim under the Equal Pay Act. Instead, an employee can simply file the claim in court.

If you are successful in your claim under the Equal Pay Act, you may be entitled to back pay (what the employee should have earned minus what the employee actually earned). You may also be awarded an additional penalty, known as liquidated damages, which is equal to the entire amount of back pay unless your employer can show that it acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds to believe that its conduct did not violate the law.

Title VII

Title VII is less strict than the Equal Pay Act and only requires that an employee show that men and women who are similarly situated were paid different amounts. Unlike claims under the Equal Pay Act, before bringing a claim under Title VII you must first obtain a Right to Sue Letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

If you are successful in an employment discrimination claim under Title VII, you may be entitled to pain and suffering and punitive damages. These are not available under the Equal Pay Act. However, under Title VII, an employee is not entitled to back pay.

Usually a claim for a Title VII violation must be brought within 180 days after the discriminatory act, although in some states where there is a state or local law that prohibits sex based discrimination this may be extended to 300 days. Once an employee receives a right to sue letter, she must file a lawsuit under Title VII within 90 days.

If you file a claim under Title VII, you could also bring a claim for a violation of the Equal Pay Act. However, it’s important to discuss your claim with a skilled and experienced wage discrimination attorney so you understand the benefits and drawbacks of bringing a claim under one statute or the other, or both.

Race-Based Wage Discrimination

To prove a case of race-based wage discrimination an employee must show that an employer treats employees differently based on race, color, or national origin.

Race-based wage discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate based on race. Race-based discrimination can be committed against an employee, or even an applicant for employment, and includes:

  • Pay rate
  • Whether or not to hire an applicant
  • Title
  • Promotion
  • Benefits

It is illegal for an employer to make an employment decision with regard to any of these terms of employment based on race, color, or national origin.

Race-based discrimination does not need to be overt. Rather, an employer may have committed race-based wage discrimination if it adopts seemingly-neutral policies that disproportionately affect people of a particular race.

Like claims for gender-based wage discrimination, an employee who has been discriminated against based on race must first file a claim with the EEOC and receive a Right to Sue Letter.

If you are successful in your claim of race-based discrimination, you may be entitled to:

  • Back pay, lost benefits, and out-of-pocket expenses
  • Court costs and attorneys’ fees
  • Damages for emotional distress
  • Punitive damages, which are intended to punish your employer for violating the law, and are only awarded in limited circumstances where the employer acted intentionally or in a particularly egregious way.

Questions About Race or Gender Based Discrimination Claims? Contact Brady & Associates Today

If you believe you have been a victim of gender or race based discrimination, or have questions about a potential claim, contact the employment discrimination attorneys at Brady & Associates today.

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