Equal Pay Claims


It happened to me: A Real Life Story


How do I prove that I am being paid less because I am a woman?


Under Ohio's Minimum Fair Wage Standard Act, to prove you are not receiving equal pay, you must prove your employer paid you, the female employee, less than the other employee(s) of the opposite sex for work of "like or comparable character."


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, you must perform "equal work" or the actual duties of the job/position must have important common characteristics. Second, you must show that the positions required equal "skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions." If your answer is "yes" to both of these steps, you can prove you have a "like or comparable" position.


What does it mean to do "equal work"?


Equal work does not mean every single aspect of the two jobs have to be identical. However, the job being compared to your own must be "substantially equal" in skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.


Do I have to compare my salary to someone of the opposite sex?


No. If you have highly credible evidence that your employer intentionally gave you a lesser salary only because you were woman, you are not required to present additional evidence of the salary of the opposite sex.


What would be considered highly credible evidence?


An example of highly credible evidence is when a woman confronts her employer about her salary concerns and the employer responds by saying he did not have to hire women. In addition, he may say he relied on men for the bulk of the work and did not know how to make the salaries fair. In such a case, the court may determine that these statements prove that the employer engaged in some form of sexual bias when determining the salaries for its employees.


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


No. An employer violates the law 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.


I have enough to make a sufficient claim. Now what?


Your employer must now give an explanation for the differences in salary between you and the comparable male employee. Your employer is justified in paying different wages if it is based on: (1) a seniority system; (2) a merit system; (3) a system which measures earnings by the quantity or quality of production; or (4) a wage rate differential determined by any factor other than race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, or ancestry.


How do I respond to my employer's evidence?


If your employer offers a reason for wage differences, then you must show that the reason given by your employer was mere pretext. Pretext is a false, non-discriminatory reason given to cover the real, discriminatory reason for the discrimination. You can show pretext by showing that the reason given by your employer is not supported by the evidence because the information he or she provided is insufficient to explain the wage gap between you and your male counterparts.


Are there any other laws that protect me from receiving unequal pay for equal work?


Yes. To protect females against unequal pay Ohio has two laws: R.C. 4112.02 and the R.C. 4111.17, also known as the Minimum Fair Wage Standard Act (MFWSA).


How do these laws differ?


R.C. 4112.02 applies only to employers with over four employees while the Minimum Fair Wage Standard Act (MFWSA) applies to all employers. Under R.C. 4112.02, no employer can discriminate in compensation or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on sex. Under the MFWSA, 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.


Do I have to prove that the discrimination occurred because of my sex under R.C. 4112.02?


Yes. You have to show that you were discriminated against in terms of your salary because you were a woman.


When should I bring my claim?


You must file your R.C. 4111.17 claim within one year after the date of the violation. However, if you have been at your place of employment for a number of years, the discrimination may be considered continual. In this case, you may not be restricted by the one-year limitation because the discrimination occurs with every pay check.


If you plan to file under R.C. 4112.02, see How to File A Claim.


What would be considered the date of violation?


The date of violation is the last date on which the wage discrimination occurred. This means that you can bring a claim within one year of your last discriminatory paycheck.


Who is responsible for implementing and enforcing my wage discrimination claim?


The Ohio Department of Commerce's Wage and Hour Bureau is responsible for enforcing your wage discrimination claim under R.C. 4111.17. The Department of Commerce can be reached at (614) 644-2239 and at the Ohio State Department of Commerce website.


If you plan to file under R.C. 4112.02, see the How to File Claim.



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