Unequal Pay Claims


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


Because Missouri courts have not often dealt with equal pay cases, there is a certain amount of confusion as to what you must prove in order to show that you are not receiving equal pay for equal work. At least one recent case has said that you must provide the same evidence you would have to provide in order to prove a violation of the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963. Accordingly, you must prove that your employer paid male workers more than it paid you "for equal work in jobs that required equal skill, effort, and responsibility and were performed under similar working conditions."


What does pay discrimination look like?


Pay discrimination occurs when a woman is paid less than a man who holds a substantially similar position.


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


The Missouri Equal Pay Act (MEPA) provides that employers may not pay women less than men for doing the same quality and quantity of the same type of work. This means that you must be paid the same as a man who is in a "like or comparable" position to you and who is doing work that requires the same skill, effort, and responsibility.


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


Missouri courts have held that the tests for skill, effort, and responsibility are separate, and each must be proven separately. An evaluation of skill takes into account experience, training, education, and ability. Responsibility deals with the degree of accountability required in the job. Effort refers to the physical or mental exertion needed to perform the job.


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


Your job need not be identical to that of your male co-worker, but must be substantially the same. The court takes into account actual job requirements, and not simply written job descriptions in determining if your position is "like or comparable" to that of your male co-workers'.


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


Yes, under the MEPA, you must show that you were paid less because of your sex and not because of other factors.

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


There are certain valid justifications that will allow your employer to unequally compensate you in comparison to a male co-worker. Your employer may counter your allegations by producing evidence showing that the wage disparity is based on a difference in:
(1) seniority;
(2) length of service;
(3) ability or skill;
(4) difference in duties or services performed;
(5) difference in the shift or time of day worked;
(6) difference in hours of work;
(7) restrictions or prohibitions on lifting or moving objects in excess of specified weight; or
(8) factors other than sex, as long as they do so in good faith (that is, without an intent to act maliciously.)

It is ultimately up to you to show that the defenses your employer raises are actually a pretext -- just excuses -- for sex discrimination.


Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?


Yes, the Missouri Equal Pay Act requires that you file your lawsuit within six (6) months of the discrimination. For more information on how to file your claim, please see How Do I File a Claim?.


What options do I have if I my employer has fewer than 6 employees?


If your employer has fewer than six (6) employees you may not sue under the Missouri Human Rights Act. However, you may have other options. For more information, please see What Does the Law Say.


If I prove my Equal Pay claim, what kind of remedies am I entitled to?


You may be entitled to injunctive relief or monetary damages. For more information, please see Remedies.



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