Both federal and state laws protect against wage discrimination based on sex.
The Florida Equal Pay Act (EPA) was enacted in 1963, as an amendment to the existing Fair Labor Standards Act. It requires employers to compensate males and females equally if they perform the same work. The statute was passed primarily to address wage disparities that harmed women, though it could also be used by men who have suffered discrimination in their rate of pay.
The EPA prohibits pay discrimination based on sex for jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility, and are performed under similar working conditions. The law impacts any employer with two or more employees if the employer is not subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires employers to pay non-exempt status employees an overtime rate at least equal to 1.5 times the normal hourly wage for each hour worked beyond the 40-hour workweek period.
Under the EPA, the prevailing employee can receive back pay, interest, attorney fees, and litigation costs. Where the court finds a lack of good faith, an employee can recover back wages in the amount of double the back pay award (called “liquidated damages”). Where the court finds a willful violation of the EPA, the award can extend back pay to cover the prior three years instead of the normal two years.
State law in Florida allows differences in pay if based on:
• A seniority system
• A merit system
• A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or
• A differential based on any reasonable factor other than sex when exercised in good faith.
The law applies to employers with two or more employees. An employee may file a civil lawsuit against the employer to recover the difference between the amount the employee was paid and the amount that should have been paid. The amount is limited to the 1-year period before filing the claim.
For more information, refer to Florida Statutes 448.07 – Wage rate discrimination based on sex prohibited at www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2010/448.07
Two federal statutes prohibit gender-based differences in pay: the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Title VII and other federal laws also prohibit pay discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, and disability. Although the EPA and Title VII both prohibit pay discrimination based on gender, the laws differ in several aspects, including coverage, enforcement, and remedies.
If you feel that your employer has violated your rights to an equal wage, contact The Usman Law Firm at 813-377-1197.