You may have heard about wage claims on the basis of gender discrimination. These claims arise when an employee is paid less than a coworker who performs equal work requiring equal “skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions”, and the difference in pay is because of their gender. RSA 275:37. These claims do not require the compared coworker to have the exact same job title and performance. To bring a claim before the Department of Labor it is sufficient to show that the two coworkers perform jobs which require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and one employee is being paid less than the other, and that the difference in pay is based on gender.
Part of establishing these claims is learning about differences in pay among employees. For this reason, the Workplace Discrimination Statute also protects employees who discuss their wages. While culturally this is considered by many a taboo subject, the law in New Hampshire expressly protects employees discussing their pay.
While the statute protects employees discussing their pay, the Workplace Discrimination Statute also protects an employee who files a complaint or makes a charge alleging an Equal Pay Act violation. Therefore, employees should feel safe to bring such claims and to speak with an attorney about whether they may have a case.
If successful, Equal Pay Act claims can result in an award of the difference in wages between two coworkers, as well as liquidated damages in that same amount. In other words, employees may be entitled to twice the amount of pay they were deprived. An employer who is found to be in violation of the Equal Pay Act may also be guilty of a misdemeanor, and subject to additional fines.
The Equal Pay Act does have certain exceptions for situations where employers are allowed to pay differing amounts. For example, it is not discriminatory to pay one employee more due to seniority or greater amounts of education or training.
If you feel that you are being paid unfairly and you have questions about whether you may have an Equal Pay Act claim, the Employment Attorneys at Parnell, Michels & McKay are ready to meet with you. Please contact our team of experienced attorneys today.