Employers must provide equal compensation for their employees regardless of their gender. The U.S. Department of Labor notes that the Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects the rights of men and women who perform jobs requiring substantially the same skills.
Compensation may include benefits, perks and bonuses. An employer offering reimbursement for expenses or life insurance, for example, must provide the same benefits and amenities to both male and female employees in similar positions.
How the Department of Labor may consider jobs “substantially equal”
Employees working at the same location in positions requiring similar skill sets must receive equal pay. Compensation must reflect a job’s required skills regardless of gender. Evaluating the required skills includes reviewing the education, experience and training needed to perform a job’s specific tasks.
Employees must also exert the same amount of mental or physical effort for similar jobs at the same location. One gender must not have more or less responsibility than another to receive equal compensation.
Employees’ right to file a legal action when receiving unequal pay
Employees have a right to report an employer for violating the Equal Pay Act. Both federal and California state labor laws protect employees who report company misconduct. If an employer retaliates, such as by firing an employee for filing a complaint, that employee may have a right to relief.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, retaliation includes wrongfully firing, demoting or harassing an employee. In some cases, managers or coworkers could begin spreading rumors or change an employee’s work schedule. These actions may also violate labor laws.
An employer may not retaliate against an employee who asks coworkers about their pay and then files an unfair wages complaint. A lawsuit over a retaliatory action, such as a wrongful termination, may provide damages such as back pay.