One common form of discrimination is disparate pay. Pay discrimination is prohibited by the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and by the anti-discrimination statutes (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act).
The Equal Pay Act commands “equal pay for equal work” and applies only to sex-based disparate pay; it does not protect from any other kind of pay discrimination.
Under the EPA, an employer may not discriminate by paying different wages to men and women for equal work, which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which is performed under similar working conditions. The requirement of “equal work” does not mean that the jobs must be identical, but the positions must be closely related or very much alike. Likewise, working conditions do not have not be equal, but they must be similar.
To prove an EPA claim, the employee is not required to show that the wage disparity is sex-based – typically it is enough to show that men and women are not paid the same. The employee also does not need to draw comparisons to all comparable employees of the opposite sex – one can be enough.
After an employee presents evidence of wage disparity, the employer can avoid liability under the EPA if it can show that the wage disparity was based on a seniority system, a merit system, an incentive system, or a differential based on a factor other than sex, including a gender-neutral legitimate business reason.
The other anti-discrimination statutes also prohibit wage-based discrimination, but the application of the law is slightly different and the prohibition applies to the remaining protected classes of employees – race, national origin, religion, disability, age, and sex.