Equal Pay Act

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Experienced Employment Attorney in Wage Discrimination Cases throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia

Also Serving Howard and Anne Arundel counties, as well as the areas of Silver Spring, Annapolis, Glen Burnie, Frederick and Columbia

With offices in Annapolis, employment law attorney Joyce E. Smithey and her team represent employers and employees throughout Maryland in claims under the Equal Pay Act. They have extensive experience in matters before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and in both state and federal court.

The Equal Pay Act is a federal law that prohibits wage discrimination based upon an employee’s gender. It is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and it is administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, while employees have the option to file charges under the Equal Pay Act with the EEOC, they also have the right to proceed directly with Equal Pay Act claims in court.

Having represented Maryland employers and employees for more than 18 years, attorney Joyce E. Smithey has substantial experience representing both sides in Equal Pay Act claims. She regularly represents clients in other discrimination and wage-related claims, as well; as a result, she offers a unique level of insight for both defending employers and helping employees stand up for their legal rights.

Key Provisions of the Equal Pay Act

At a base level, the Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace receive equal pay for equal work. However, there are several nuances to the law, some of which favor employers and others of which favor employees. For example, some of the key provisions of the Equal Pay Act include:

  • In order for coworkers of the opposite sex to be entitled to equal pay, their jobs do not need to be identical. It is enough that they are “substantially equal.”
  • Job roles and responsibility, not job titles, determine whether coworkers’ positions are substantially equal.
  • The Equal Pay Act applies to all forms of compensation, including: Wages, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits.
  • If there is an inequality in compensation between men and women in the same workplace, the employer may not reduce the compensation paid to either sex in order to equalize their pay.

As noted above, unlike certain other types of employment-related claims, in order to seek remedies under the Equal Pay Act employees do not need to start the process by filing an administrative complaint with the EEOC. Instead, employees can proceed directly to court. However, filing charges with the EEOC can be beneficial for employees under certain circumstances, and deciding where and how to pursue an Equal Pay Act claim requires the advice and guidance of an experienced employment law attorney.

The statutes of limitations for filing EEOC charges and going to court under the Equal Pay Act are the same: Employees must file within two years of the alleged unlawful compensation practice; or, in the case of a willful violation, within three years. Filing with the EEOC does not extend the deadline for filing a complaint in court.

Other Possible Claims for Sex-Based Wage Discrimination

In addition to filing under the Equal Pay Act, employees alleging sex-based wage discrimination will frequently be able to assert claims under a number of other statutes, as well. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act also makes it illegal to discriminate based on sex with respect to pay and benefits. Unlike the Equal Pay Act, Title VII does not require that jobs be “substantially equal” in order to require payment of equal compensation.

Other Discrimination Claims Based on Unequal Pay

Sex-based discrimination is not the only form of wage discrimination prohibited under the law. Title VII also applies to other forms of discrimination, while the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provide additional protections for qualifying employees. Together, these statutes prohibit discrimination with regard to compensation on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability. Possible remedies include:

  • Placement in a job position previously denied on a discriminatory basis
  • Back pay
  • Coverage for job search and medical expenses
  • Compensation for emotional harm
  • Attorneys’ fees and litigation costs

In certain cases, employees may also be able to claim punitive damages.

Schedule a Consultation with Employment Lawyer Joyce E. Smithey and Her Team of Talented Legal Professionals

If you believe that you may be a victim of wage discrimination, or if you are a Maryland employer facing allegations of unequal compensation, attorney Joyce E. Smithey and her team can help. To schedule a confidential consultation, call (410) 919-2990 or request an appointment online today.