Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  Pay or Compensation Discrimination

Pay or compensation discrimination occurs when employees performing similar work do not receive similar pay. Pay discrimination also occurs when a difference in pay has an unlawful basis such as race or sex. Pay discrimination based on an employee's membership in a protected category like race, disability, or sex, is prohibited by anti-discrimination laws. Relevant laws include Title VII, the ADA and ADEA, state anti-discrimination laws, and the Equal Pay Act which specifically addresses pay discrimination based on sex. What is pay or compensation discrimination?

Pay/compensation discrimination occurs when employees performing substantially equal work do not receive the same pay for their work. It is job content and not job titles that determine whether or not jobs are substantially equal. Federal law looks to see that individuals performing jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, responsibility, and under similar working conditions are compensated equally for their time. Discrimination can occur due to sex or race, which are both prohibited under federal law. All forms of pay are covered by the law, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits.

Is it illegal to give different benefits to male and female employees?

Employers are not allowed to condition benefits available to employees and their spouses and families on whether the employee is the “head of the household” or “principal wage earner” in the family unit, since that status bears no relationship to job performance and discriminatorily affects the rights of female employees.

An employer cannot make benefits available:

  • for the wives and families of male employees where the same benefits are not made available for the husbands and families of female employees;
  • for the wives of male employees which are not made available for female employees; or
  • for the husbands of female employees which are not made available for male employees.

It is also against the law for an employer to have a pension or retirement plan which establishes different optional or compulsory retirement ages based on sex, or which differentiates in benefits based on sex.

Am I protected against retaliation under the law?

Yes, It is unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on compensation or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII, ADEA, ADA or the Equal Pay Act. 

Thought of the Week

"Black women are a large percentage of COVID-19 front-line workers, but they are being paid less than their white male peers, and are experiencing high unemployment."

–National Women's Law Center

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Black workers are hurt most as Congress doesn't extend unemployment

One mostly unintended aspect of the $600 in added unemployment benefits is that it reduced racial disparities. But that means that one aspect of the $600 expiring is that those same racial disparities have come roaring back.

Top Five News Headlines

  1. Flight attendant union president calls for airlines to put ‘workers first’
  2. Employers Can’t Provide Retirement Plans- Let’s Stop Pretending They Can
  3. Will California Lead the Charge for Domestic Workers’ Rights During the Pandemic?
  4. Sactacular Holdings to Pay $35,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Discrimination Lawsuit
  5. How the pandemic will affect Black Women's Equal Pay Day for years to come

List of the Week

from Center For American Progress

The Disproportionate Economic Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Women of Color

  • An estimated 60.3 percent of maids and housekeepers, 50.3 percent of nursing assistants, and 45.7 percent of personal care aides are women of color.
  • Although many women of color work in essential jobs, they also disproportionately work in several of the industries hit hardest by job losses.
  • Women of color account for 53.8 percent of workers in the accommodations and food services industry and 80 percent of workers in the health and social assistance industry.
  • Hispanic families and Black families engaged in family caregiving are estimated to spend 44 percent and 34 percent, respectively, of their annual income on caregiving expenses, compared with 14 percent for white families and 9 percent for Asian families.

Archive

FROM THE BLOG
  • Pizza Delivery Drivers Shorted on Vehicle Reimbursements Achieve Class Settlement in Largest Michigan Lawsuit of its Kind    July 4, 2020
    Pizza franchises take a slice out of every driver’s pay.

    Final approval of the $650,000 settlement package clears the way for the largest known class action settlement of its kind in Michigan – covering ten Hungry Howie’s franchise locations in Mid-Michigan. The Pizza Driver Lawsuits alleged a common complaint among drivers in the industry – that systematic under-reimbursement for mileage and vehicle expenses violates the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Michigan Minimum Wage laws.  Even while consenting to the settlement, the pizza stores continue to deny liability and deny that they underpay drivers for their vehicle expenses.

    (more…)

  • COVID -19 EMPLOYMENT LAW INSIGHTS AND RESOURCES June 3, 2020

    The COVID-19 Outbreak is presenting many challenges for the Michigan workplace.  Yet the law and circumstances are changing almost daily.  We are regularly monitoring and updating workplace rights resources we have found helpful.  Additional Blanchard & Walker Resource Pages and Factsheets provide more detailed discussion on specific COVID-19 topics:

    (more…)

  • RETURN-TO-WORK: WORKPLACE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS DURING COVID-19 May 27, 2020
    Ten Steps all Workplaces Can take to Prevent COVID-19 Exposure

    Many Michigan workers are being asked to report to work, either because their employer has determined they support critical infrastructure, they are other essential employees, or otherwise reopened for business.  These include health care workers, first responders, and other critical infrastructure businesses. But also grocery store workers, landscapers and construction workers in regional reopened businesses.  For those who are out at work in public during the COVID-19 outbreak, effective workplace safety is a great concern. Discrimination or retaliation for raising workplace safety concerns is illegal. (more…)