Unequal Pay: Addressing Sex Discrimination in the Workplace

I Keep Watching Male Tech Workers Get Paid More Than I Ever Have. Do I Have a Case for Sex Discrimination?

 Unfortunately, the tech world is developing an infamous reputation for such discriminatory practices as gender pay gaps, sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination.

Particularly, many women employees in tech are watching as gender bias becomes more and more prevalent in salary and compensation. Like never before, equal pay in the tech industry is fast becoming a top concern among female employees.

When Male Equals More

The tech industry is not the only area of business and commerce where males are getting paid more than women unfairly. Equal pay is a national issue. According to the Pew Research Center, women make on average 83 percent less than male employees in the U.S. In the tech industry, pay gaps can loom large, with women earning less and receiving fewer promotions.

The question is, what can be done legally to address pay and compensation gender bias in the tech industry? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is often the logical choice for women who feel victimized by sex discrimination based on pay differences between males and females on the job. Its provisions against discrimination in the workplace cover unfairness in benefits, wages and compensation.

Further, the Equal Pay Act (EPA) is also an excellent resource for female employees. It’s provisions are meant to expand on Title VII by directly addressing gender bias motivated discrimination in pay. The act is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. It’s main provisions state that men and women should be paid equally for equal work performed within the same workplace.

It’s also important to point out that other federal laws protect the right to equal pay and fair compensation. These include the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Making the Case for Equal Pay Issues Under the Equal Pay Act

The provisions of the Equal Pay Act have a few elements that women workers in the tech industry should be aware of, particularly because employees must prove these elements in order to successfully sue under the act. Workers must show that an employer has made the decision to pay them less for jobs that require “equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions” as their male counterparts.

This area of the act lies at the heart of each EPA suit and can lead to the recovery of back pay, lost wages, future earnings and even the recovery of damages for emotional distress. It’s also important to note that all forms of work pay are covered under the EPA, including overtime and bonuses.

Making the Case for Equal Pay Issues Under Title VII, the ADEA or the ADA

Federal discrimination laws such as Title VII, the ADEA and the ADA all prohibit discrimination based on certain protected categories, including sex. The key difference between filing a suit under these federal laws and the EPA is that employees are not limited to proving that the work in question is substantially similar to another worker’s. These laws also do not require proving that the work in question is performed at the same workplace.

Making the Case for Tech Industry Equal Pay Under State laws

Most state equal pay laws mirror federal measures to address illegal pay differentials between workers of the opposite sex. For instance, in California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act states that pay rates must be the same for “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions”.

In New York, pay discrimination between opposite sexes is prohibited for employees in the same establishment “for equal work on a job the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which is performed under similar working conditions.”

Some states like North Carolina, do not have laws that specifically address the wage gap, but instead rely on general employment discrimination laws. In Texas, wage discrimination based on sex is prohibited in public employment only.

Tech Industry Equal Pay Issues and the EEOC

For most employment discrimination issues, the place to start is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This government agency is responsible for enforcing federal employment discrimination laws. State EEO offices are also available to address discrimination issues filed under state laws.

However, for lawsuits filed under the EPA, it’s possible for employees to go directly to court without filing a claim first with the EEOC. Tech employees have up to two years to file a suit alleging a violation of the EPA in a court of law.

When a tech industry worker files a claim of pay discrimination with the EEOC, an investigation will begin. The agency will conduct interviews with supervisors, managers and workers to determine more about the claim. If the EEOC decides to take on the case, the agency will represent the employee in court. All claims must meet EEOC filing deadlines. The EEOC deadline for filing an EPA suit is two years, the same as the time limit for filing a suit directly in court.

Getting Equal Pay in the Tech Industry

The tech industry is now a hotbed for disputes over a number of gender related issues. One of these, equal pay and compensation, is particularly important. When male tech workers get paid more that women workers, it could mean an employer is liable for sex discrimination. Both federal and state laws offer protection for women workers in the tech industry forced to watch men get paid more, simply because they are males. If you feel you’ve been subject to violations of these laws, hire an experienced attorney for best results and to get the equal pay you deserve.

Manuela Varela

Relations Manager

Manuela Varela has been with Shegerian & Associates since August 2022. She is responsible for outreach and marketing on behalf of the firm and manages relationships between firms and referring attorneys. She is also responsible for developing business opportunities and affiliations. Manuela graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Economics and Political Science.