Staying On The Right Side Of The Law

What Are The Components Of An Equal Pay Case?

Equal pay cases can present several challenges, and it's important to get the basic components of the case right before moving forward. Here are the 5 aspects of a claim that an equal pay attorney will want to sort out first.

Disparities in Compensation

The first thing that has to be proven in a case is that a gender-based pay disparity exists at all. To accomplish this, an equal pay lawyer will seek records from payroll that indicate who gets paid what. If the company resists producing such information, it can be turned up in a variety of ways. Tactics may include looking at advertisements, comparing online profiles of workers and examining published resumes that show what previous workers were paid. If the case comes to litigation, company records can also be demanded during the discovery process.

Equality of Skills in the Jobs in Question

Having established that men and women at a business are being paid different amounts, the next issue is whether the jobs in question require equal skills. It's understood that two workers on a single assembly line might have very different skills if they work at different stages of the process. For a company's conduct to be discriminatory, they must deny equal pay for jobs that are fundamentally the same in terms of skills.

Similar Effort Requirements and Conditions

Presuming equal skills are involved, a company still has a defense based on effort. Some parts of a job might, for example, require much heavier lifting. Even if the skill involved is otherwise the same, it's understood that the person exerting more physical effort or taking on more risk to their body is probably going to get better pay. Working in hotter conditions, for example, justifies higher compensation, too.

Major Responsibilities

Differences in the major responsibilities of two workers are considered grounds for paying one person better than another. For example, two customer service workers might have very similar jobs. If one person is charged with handling counting money from a cash register at the end of the day, that person can be better compensated for the additional responsibility. Notably, small responsibilities like turning off all the computers, for example, aren't usually considered critical enough to justify pay disparities.


Many businesses operate in multiple locations. If there are major differences between the sites, such as being indifferent metro areas, differences in pay may be tolerated. The right lawyer will walk you through this.