The global pandemic has transformed everyday interaction both in and outside of work. Despite the emergence of our “new normal,” some things remain unchanged, such as employees’ desire to be treated in the same way regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. This desire is evidenced in a lawsuit recently filed by professors at Rutgers University, alleging unequal pay between male and female professors.
The reality is that even “grandfathered” pay structures without discriminatory intent may be illegal under the law. Businesses should not wait for inequities to be discovered to make changes. Check out my post below for simple steps that can be taken now:
- Review the data. Employers can easily review whether their pay practices before a claim is made to see if there are pay differences between employees doing the same position with similar qualifications. Identifying a “starting point” allows for a review of how to best move forward proactively.
- Look at how promotions are presented. It’s not just unequal pay for equal work that is prohibited under the law. Limiting the ability of certain classes of individuals (i.e., by race or gender) to advance based on the requirements for promotion is problematic. For example, do current practices eliminate certain individuals’ ability to compete – even when the practice is unrelated to the job? (i.e., social commitments that may be difficult for parents with young children). Even “team-building” initiatives should not exclude different groups.
- Create policies. The female plaintiffs in the Rutgers suit allege that male counterparts’ pay increases were unattainable for them for reasons management could not articulate. An easy way to rebut such allegations is by clearly defining – in writing – what employees can do to get a pay raise. Ambiguity (even unintentionally) can result in a disparate impact and potential liability.
Feel free to reach out to me to address employee salary inquiries.
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Theodora Stringham assists individuals, businesses, and organizations with growing successfully while minimizing liability. Focusing on real estate and personnel needs, Ms. Stringham executes sustainable plans for real estate development and employee matters. She provides comprehensive representation for everyday growth issues, including, but not limited to, re-zonings, site plan approvals, eminent domain/valuation concerns, employment discrimination, and disciplinary issues. Ms. Stringham’s scope of representation ranges from identifying potential liability and providing counseling/trainings, all the way through representation at trial.
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