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


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


You need to show that your work is equal to that of your male coworker who receives higher pay than you. "Equal work" is work that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and is performed under similar working conditions as the work of your male coworker.


What does pay discrimination look like?


Common indicators of pay discrimination are when two people of different genders perform very similar job duties and have been with the company for relatively the same amount of time, and one is being paid less than the other. If, however, the difference in wages is based on anything other than sex, such as seniority, or quantity or quality of work, then the difference is not discrimination.


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


There are several laws that protect you in Minnesota. Minnesota Statute, Section 181.67, prohibits wage discrimination based on sex. Also, the Minnesota Human Rights Act similarly makes it illegal in Minnesota for employers to pay male and female employees different wages because of sex. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Actand the Equal Pay Act of 1963 are federal laws that protect you from receiving unequal pay at work. See Federal Law pages.


How do I prove that my work requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility as my coworker's?


Examine your job duties and your coworker's. Are they substantially similar? Small differences in your jobs do not matter as long as they are not substantial. Are your job titles the same? This is not a necessary prerequisite, however it can only help your case, if you have the same title. If he has more education than you, for example, a masters degree, does that higher degree impact the quality of work he is able to perform? Does it take approximately the same amount of time to complete the same tasks? These are all indicators that you and your coworker are performing equal work.


How do I know if my position requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility as my coworker's?


It is important to note that "equal" does not mean identical. Some ways to know if your position is comparable to your coworkers' are: (1) your job titles are the same; (2) you work similar hours, doing similar tasks; and/or (3) you have been at the company for approximately the same time. It is important to note though, that these indicators are not absolute. Each person's situation is different, so you should look at these as ideas and guidelines only.


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


No. There is no need to prove that there was an intent to discriminate.


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


It is likely that your employer will try to show that the purpose of paying you less than your male coworker was not discriminatory in nature. The ways that he/she could do this include showing differences in work quality or quantity, seniority on the part of your coworker, or differences in experience or training. You would need to respond to this by showing that your employer's reasons for the pay differential were pretext or a cover up for an underlying discriminatory purpose.


Legal Glossary


Return to Main Minnesota Page


Return to Types of Discrimination


Return to States