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The legal aspects of compensation discrimination

New York residents may not be aware about the facts concerning compensation discrimination and equal pay in the workforce. Employees are protected under a variety of federal laws ensuring that earnings are not subject to discrimination. Employee benefits such as holiday pay, insurance benefits, bonuses, overtime, hazard pay, stock investments, trip accommodations and reimbursement for travel-related expenses are also protected under laws.

The law requires that if jobs are substantially equal, men and women will be paid equally if working in the same company. Job content is the determining factor in assessing whether jobs are substantially equal, as opposed to job titles. If a job requires equal efforts, responsibilities, abilities and similar working conditions within the same company it is unlawful under the Equal Pay Act to not compensate men and women equally.

In such cases where an employee has earned better compensation, pay differentials are acceptable. Considerations like merit, seniority or any other factor other than sex are not covered by the Equal Pay Act. The law also states that if an employer is correcting a pay differential the employee's compensation cannot be reduced. Instead, the lower paid employee's compensation must be increased.

The law also prohibits discrimination of wages based on an employee's religion, disability, race, national origin, color, age or sex. For example, if an employer establishes differing compensations for an employee that is disabled, the company does not comply with federal law. Similarly, it is unlawful if an employer establishes differing compensation for women or African-Americans . Employees who believe that they have been unfairly discriminated against in matters involving compensation may wish to consult with an employment law attorney for a determination of available remedies.

Source: US EEOC, "Facts About Equal Pay and Compensation Discrimination", December 17, 2014

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