- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission asked for a jury to hear its claims that a Wisconsin school district violated federal wage laws including the Equal Pay Act by paying women less than men for identical work (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Verona Area School District, No. 22-cv-00039 (W.D. Wisc., Jan. 25, 2022)).
- The school district paid nine female special education teachers lower salaries than their male colleagues. All of the teachers have comparable experience, but the women made between $5,000 and $17,000 less than the male co-worker during the 2020-2021 school year.
- The EEOC also claimed that the school paid a female school psychologist $16,000 less than a male psychologist since 2017. The superintendent of the school district told multiple media outlets that the school does not comment on pending litigation.
Equal work deserves equal pay — that's the basic principle of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
The law defines equal work as any job requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility performed under similar conditions. And it prohibits pay discrimination based on only one factor: gender.
Workers can demonstrate discriminatory pay practices by proving that members of the opposite sex are being paid more for performing equal work. When they meet this standard, the burden shifts to the employer, sources previously told HR Dive. At that point, employers can defend their pay decisions using one of four defenses: seniority, merit, earnings by quantity or quality of production, or another factor other than sex.
In the fall of 2020, EEOC sued Dell, Inc., alleging it breached the requirements of the EPA when it paid a female IT analyst less than it paid a male employee who performed the same work. The plaintiff alleged she made $17,510 less than her male coworker. Dell paid $75,000 to settle the claims in 2021.
Addressing discriminatory pay disparities is one of EEOC's six national priorities. At a 2019 conference, EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows pointed out that pay gaps — even seemingly small ones — can add up to significant financial loss over time. "That's why it's a priority."