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Equal Pay for the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team!by Andrew Whiteman

Equal Pay for the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team!

If you want to know what the U.S. women’s national soccer team is complaining about, click here to see the team’s federal court complaint against United States Soccer Fedaration, Inc. This story in The Atlantic summarizes the case. Hint – the women have really strong claims under both the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The EPA prohibits pay discrimination based on sex. Like other federal anti-discrimination laws, the EPA grants enforcement authority to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). However, unlike other federal discrimination laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act, a claimant has a right to bring a lawsuit under the EPA without first submitting a charge of discrimination to the EEOC.

Section 206(d) of the EPA, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d), requires that employers may not discriminate between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees of the opposite sex “for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.” The law provides exceptions if unequal wage payments are made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by the quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex. Id.

The law covers all types of compensation including regular pay, overtime, bonuses, vacation and holiday pay, and employee benefits.

Equal pay for equal work does not mean that the jobs must be identical. If two employees are performing the same work, it does not matter that their job titles or job descriptions are different. Jobs are considered “equal” under the EPA even if there are small differences in skill, effort, responsibility, or working conditions. Two jobs may be considered “equal” even if one job includes a few additional duties, particularly if the higher-paying jobs with the extra duties are reserved for workers of one gender.

Whether two jobs are considered “equal” requires an analysis of the skills required to perform the job, not the skills that the individual employees possess. Differences in the education, training, and experience of employees may not be relevant if the jobs at issue require the same skills and if both employees possess those skills. The physical and mental effort required by a job and any hazards associated with the work are relevant factors, and it is not illegal to pay employees more for performing harder or more dangerous work. Another factor that may justify a pay differential is whether a job carries managerial or reporting responsibilities.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is broader than the EPA. The EPA only prohibits discrimination in wages based on sex, whereas Title VII bars all forms of discrimination based on sex, race, religion, etc., including discrimination in pay, hiring, firing, and promotion. There are other differences in coverage between the EPA and Title VII. Title VII does not require the jobs in question by equal, unlike the EPA. Title VII does not apply to employers who have less than 15 employees, while virtually all employers and jobs are covered under the EPA regardless of the number of employees. The EPA does not require proof that the employer acted intentionally, unlike Title VII. Title VII requires that before a claimant may sue the employee must first file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. An employee may not sue the employer under Title VII unless the EEOC has declined to institute an enforcement action and has issued a “right to sue letter” to the claimant.

The time limit for filing an EPA lawsuit is two years from the last alleged unlawful compensation practice (usually, the last discriminatory paycheck) or three years if the violation was willful. Under Title VII, a claimant must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days from the day the discrimination occurred. The 180-day filing deadline is extended to 300 days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis as the EEOC.

The EPA and Title VII provide different categories of damages that may be recovered. The EPA provides for unpaid wages, “liquidated damages,” and attorney’s fees. Liquidated damages is an amount equal to the claimant’s unpaid wages. Thus, the liquidated damages provision of the EPA effectively doubles the claimant’s recovery. Title VII does not provide for liquidated damages, but it provides for compensatory damages, which includes financial damages and emotional distress damages, and punitive damages. In Title VII cases, damages are “mitigated,” i.e. reduced, by any income earned by the employee after an unlawful termination, and any damages that are awarded other than for back pay are capped at varying levels, from $50,000 to $300,000, depending on the number of persons employed by the employer.

Despite the passage of the EPA in 1963, women in the United States still make only 80.5% of the compensation paid to their male peers in the workplace. The Institute For Women’s Policy Research website contains a great article about the gender pay gap titled Pay Equity & Discrimination.

Congratulations to the U.S. women’s soccer team’s great World Cup victory. Let’s hope they are equally successful in pursuing their claim for pay parity.

© Andrew Whiteman 2019

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Whiteman Law Firm handles cases involving claims for pay discrimination under federal and state law.

Contact us for more information.

Judge Allows North Carolina GenX Class Action to Proceedby Andrew Whiteman

In a ruling filed on April 19, 2019, Judge James C. Dever III ruled that the plaintiffs may proceed with their class action lawsuit against E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company (“DuPont”) and The Chemours Company FC, LLC (“Chemours”). The case is pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that DuPont and Chemours discharged toxic chemicals, including GenX, from their Fayetteville Works plant into the Cape Fear River and surrounding air, soil, and groundwater. On March 2, 2018, the defendants moved to dismiss plaintiffs’ consolidated class action complaint. In the recent ruling, the Court granted the defendants’ motion in part and denied it in part. The Court ruled that the plaintiffs were entitled to proceed on their claims of negligence, gross negligence, private nuisance, and trespass to real property. The Court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims of negligence per se, public nuisance, and unjust enrichment. The Court also granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relieve concerning medical monitoring, but allowed plaintiffs to proceed on their claims for damages for future medical expenses.

Judge Dever’s order may be found here.

For a news story concerning the ruling and comments by lead attorney Ted Leopold, click here.

A status conference in the cases is scheduled for April 25, 2019.

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Whiteman Law Firm, along with several other firms, is representing plaintiffs in class action lawsuits against DuPont and Chemours for environmental contamination of the air and water in southeastern North Carolina. In these lawsuits, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants discharged toxic chemicals from their chemical production facility near Fayetteville, North Carolina into the surrounding air and water. The plant produces chemicals that are used to make non-stick coatings for cookware and other consumer products. Plaintiffs alleged that DuPont and Chemours knew that this family of chemicals is dangerous, but nevertheless dumped these chemicals into the air and water to avoid the expense of taking appropriate safety precautions while misleading regulators about the nature of their discharges.

Please contact us for more information.

 

Andrew Whiteman named to Professionalism Committeeby Andrew Whiteman

Attorney Andrew Whiteman was honored to be appointed to the Professionalism Committee of the Wake County Bar Association and the Tenth Judicial District Bar. The Committee promotes professionalism within the local bar and recognizes attorneys who embody the best values of the legal profession. Click here for more information about the work of the Committee.

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The attorneys of Whiteman Law Firm have represented clients in civil lawsuits and arbitrations for over three decades. The main focus of our practice is the representation of individuals in disputes with securities brokers and disability insurance companies. Please visit the Practice Areas section of our website or contact us to learn more about what we do.

 

Whiteman Law Firm attorneys participate in Hurricane Florence pro bono legal aid programby Andrew Whiteman

Attorneys at Whiteman Law FIrm are participating in a program that provides pro bono legal services to victims of Hurricane Florence. The program was established by the North Carolina Bar Association, Legal Aid of North Carolina, the American Bar Association, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Click here to learn more about the Hurricane Florence legal aid program.

Whiteman Law Firm Launches Blogby Andrew Whiteman

The Whiteman Law Firm officially launched it’s company blog today. You can now view our blog posts at https://www.whiteman-law.com/blog/

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