Unequal Pay Claims


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


In order to meet the basic requirements for an equal pay claim, you must show:
(1) that your employer pays a man more than you;
(2) that you perform equal work on jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility; and
(3) that the jobs are 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 New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prevents employers from treating women differently from men. New Jersey follows the federal Equal Pay Act, (EPA) which requires that women be paid the same wages as men for jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility, and are performed under similar working conditions.


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


While you don't have to show that your job is identical to that of a male in a higher paid position, you do need to show that the two positions are "substantially similar". Courts look at the similarities in job descriptions, rather than similarities in job titles to determine whether jobs are substantially similar.


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


New Jersey courts look to whether or not the content of the job is substantially equal, rather than merely comparable. Job descriptions play a vital role in this determination, rather than job titles. Accordingly, even if your position is substantially different than other employees, the courts may look at employees with similar amounts of responsibility and experience to determine if you are being unfairly treated.


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


No. You do not need to establish your employer's discriminatory intent. You need only show that you were being paid less for equal work. It is then your employer's responsibility to show that it paid you differently for legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons.


What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to its 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 exists as a result of:

(1) a seniority system;
(2) a merit system;
(3) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
(4) any other factor not based on sex.


It is ultimately up to you to show that the defenses your employer raises are actually pretextual, and that the true reason for the pay discrepancy is based on your sex.


Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?


Under the LAD, you must file a claim with the New Jersey Division on Human rights within one-hundred and eighty (180) days of the discrimination. If you wish to bypass the Division, and file with the New Jersey Superior Court, you must file within two (2) years of the discrimination. For more information on how to file a claim, href="../files/nj_file.php">click here.


What options do I have if my employer has fewer than fifteen (15) employees?


While you are only protected under federal law if your employee has more than fifteen (15) employees, under the LAD, you are protected regardless of how many employees your employer has. So while you may not be able to file a federal claim, your claim in New Jersey is still valid.


If I prove my unequal pay claim, what remedies am I entitled to?


You will be entitled to equitable relief, which is relief intended to make you whole again. You may be able to recover remedies such as back pay to compensate you for lost earnings, front pay to compensate for a pay differential resulting from discrimination, injunctive relief to correct your employer's discriminatory practices, or reinstatement to any position that you lost as a result of discrimination.




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