Equal Pay Claims
Does Georgia law cover wage discrimination?
Your wages include income and benefits, such as health insurance, that you are receiving through your employer. Under the Georgia Equal Pay Statute, O.C.G.A. 34-5-1, it is illegal to pay someone less for doing "comparable work" because of their sex.
What is comparable work?
Comparable work does not mean you have to be doing the exact same work as a man in the same position. It means you are doing an equal amount of work in a job that requires "equal skill, effort, and responsibility."
What exactly does "equal skill, effort, and responsibility" mean?
No cases have been brought to court under the Georgia Equal Pay Statute, so the courts have not elaborated on how to define "equal skill, effort and responsibility."
Why haven't any cases been brought under the statute?
Many people prefer the alternatives to actually bringing a lawsuit as they are laid out in the statute.
One option is to report the possible wage discrimination to the Commissioner of Labor, who has the power to request all pertinent witnesses and records from your employer and to eliminate any problems he or she discovers.
Another option is arbitration, where you and your employer each choose an official arbitrator (usually an attorney) and the court appoints a third arbitrator. This arbitration committee will reach a binding agreement regarding the pay discrimination that both you and your employer will be legally required to follow. The arbitration committee will ensure that the final decision is fair.
I work in a small business, does that matter?
Yes. The Georgia Equal Pay statute only applies to businesses with 10 or more employees.
I work in Georgia, but my company has branches in other states too, can I still use the Georgia law?
No. This law only applies to businesses that operate only in the state of Georgia."
Is there any way my employer can justify paying me less?
Yes. An employer could pay you less based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or on a differential based on any factor other than sex.
What if my boss just lowers everyone's pay so they aren't violating the law?
The law specifically forbids employers from lowering any person's pay in order to eliminate discrimination. If your employer tries to do this, it will still be in violation of the statute.
How do I find out if I'm getting paid less?
This is tricky since many people do not like to talk about money and some companies forbid it. However, the only way to learn if you are getting paid less is to find out how much the men are making. Whether you can just ask will depend on your situation and relationship with your coworkers.
Public agencies, such as universities, are legally required to publish their pay scales. This information is available online at The Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts .
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