The Gender Pay Gap — 5 Ways To Compare 'Equal Work'

Posted on: 25 February 2020

Do you suspect that you may suffer from gender pay discrimination? This pervasive problem can be hard to detect, but it could cost you thousands of dollars and affect your earning potential for years to come.  

Gender pay discrimination — the act of paying a female employee less than a male counterpart for equal work — sounds simple but is difficult to prove. After all, first you must find a counterpart who completes 'equal work.' But many companies don't have multiple employees doing the exact same function for comparison. In that situation, the claimant must find a position that qualifies as 'equal work.' 

What is equal work in this context? Here are five components to look for.

1. Establishment

First, you must look within the same establishment. While this is within the same company, it may or may not include workers in other parts of the company. You'll need to look for a counterpart within the sections of the organization that are overseen by the same management. Independently operating units may not be considered the same 'establishment.'

2. Responsibility

Your level of responsibility should be the same as your counterpart. Responsibility might include things like accountability to management, oversight of other workers, and management of similarly sized projects.

3. Skills

Having similar skills in a position is determined by the job, not your own skill set. If you have a CPA license, for instance, but the job doesn't actually require such a license, it would not be considered part of the determination of what is equal work. Focus on the skills, training, experience level, and licensing called for in the job description and the actual work.

4. Conditions

What are the working conditions where you do your job? Do you or your counterpart deal with certain hazards, a lot of travel, or dangerous equipment? Remember that employers are allowed to compensate people differently for different job conditions.

5. Effort

How demanding is the job? Does it require a lot of physical effort or exertion? What about mental exertion? The management of a large and busy warehouse, for instance, might not be considered equal work to the management of a small office branch. But a manager of a similar size and volume department could fit the bill. 

By understanding what encompasses 'equal work' in the legal sense, you have a much better chance of finding others with whom to compare your salary. Do you want to know more about your rights to equal pay? Start today by consulting with an employment discrimination lawyer