Unequal Pay Claims

 

I don’t think I’m being paid fairly compared to men doing the same job.

 

It happened to me:
A Real Life Story

 

a. How do I prove that I am not receiving equal pay for equal work?

 

b. How do I know if I have a "like or comparable" position?

 

c. What laws protect me from receiving unequal pay for equal work?

 

d. Which law should I use?

 

e. What do I do if my employer employs less than 6 people?

 

f. How do I know if I want to bring suit on my own?

 

g. What is the difference between and administrative hearing and a judicial hearing?

 

h. Must I prove that my employer intentionally paid me less because I am a female?

 

i. What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to its denials?

 

j. Does it matter when the discrimination occurred? (new window to WDTLS)

 

k. What options do I have if I my employer has fewer than six employees? (new window to WDTLS)

 

l. If I prove my Equal Pay claim, what kind of remedies am I entitled to? (new window to Remedies)

 

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a. How do I prove that I am not receiving equal pay for equal work?
In Massachusetts to prove you are not receiving equal pay, you must prove your work is of a "like or comparable character" to a male receiving higher pay.

 

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b. How do I know if I have a "like or comparable" position?
There are two steps to show you have a "like or comparable" position. First, the "substantive content" or the actual duties of the job/position must have important common characteristics. Second, you must show that the positions entail comparable "skill, effort, responsibility, and working positions." If you answer yes to both of these steps, you can prove you have a "like or comparable" position.

 

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c. What laws protect me from receiving unequal pay for equal work?
To protect females against unequal pay Massachusetts has two laws: M.G.L. Chapter 151B and the M.C.L. c. 105A also known as the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA). Chapter 151B applies only to employers with over 6 employees while the MEPA applies to all employers. Under Chapter 151B, no employer can discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on sex. Under the MEPA, no employer can discriminate in any way in the payment of wages between the sexes for work of like or comparable character or work of like or comparable operations.

 

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d. Which law should I use?
The first step is always to contact the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) within 300 days of learning that you are being paid unequally. Even though there are two laws which protect you from unequal pay, the Massachusetts rule says you must use Chapter 151B first and follow all the steps of filing with the MCAD. Then, after 90 days, but before 3 years, if you wish to withdraw your claim from the MCAD, or, if the MCAD decides not to pursue your claim, you may proceed to sue your employer under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA), and/or Chapter 151B.

 

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e. What do I do if my employer employs less than 6 people?
Although Chapter 151B only applies to employers with 6 or more employees, the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) does not have any restriction on employee size. Regardless of the number of employees, you should still always contact the MCAD (http://www.mass.gov/mcad/) as a first step.

 

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f. How do I know if I want to bring suit on my own?
This is a personal decision for you to make. You always have to notify the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) first. You can speak with a MCAD commissioner to weigh the benefits of both avenues. If you bring suit through MCAD you will have an administrative hearing. If you choose to bring suit on your own, you will have a judicial hearing.

 

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g. What is the difference between an administrative hearing and a judicial hearing?
If you bring suit through the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) , you will have an administrative hearing where your case will not be decided by a judge but by a commissioner. You will not need a lawyer, and the MCAD will decide the outcome of your case and your remedies. If you choose to bring suit on your own, you can present your claim before a judge in a judicial hearing. You will need a lawyer, and a judge or jury will decide the outcome of your case and your remedies.

 

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h. Must I prove that my employer intentionally paid me less because I am a female?
No. An employer violates the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) if members of one sex receive lower pay than members of the other sex, for like or comparable work, regardless of whether the employer knew about it or meant to do it.

 

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i. What could my employer do to deny my allegations?
Your employer can defend the difference in pay if that difference is based on a legitimate seniority system.

 

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