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What Is Pay or Compensation Discrimination?

Pay discrimination occurs when an employer pays an employee differently because of their race, age, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy), religion, disability, genetic information, or nationality. It is important to note that pay discrimination does not just apply to compensation and salary but also applies to:

  • Benefits
  • Bonus opportunities and/or plans
  • Life insurance options
  • Overtime pay
  • Profit-sharing
  • Reimbursements (for company travel expenses, gasoline, accommodations, etc.)
  • Stock options
  • Vacation and/or holiday pay

Examples of Pay Discrimination

Equal work deserves equal pay, which means that people doing the same job should receive the same compensation. Even if a person has a different job title than the person who receives higher compensation, they can pursue action for pay discrimination if they have substantially equal job content and the reason for their lower wage relates to their age, race, sex, etc.

For instance, Susan and Bob both manage the social media accounts and campaigns for 25 clients as well as a team of content creators. Susan’s role in the company is titled Social Media Content Manager, and she is paid $60,000 per year. Bob, on the other hand, is a Digital Marketing Manager and received $76,000 per year. Susan discovers she as well as other female managers all receive lower wages than their male counterparts. However, this is pay discrimination.

Other examples of compensation discrimination include (but are not limited to):

  • Amy and Rob are both sales clerks at a clothing store, and their manager claims that their pay is based on their sales—the more they sell, the higher they will be compensated. However, Amy discovers that Rob receives nearly twice as much as she does each week even though they sell the same number of clothing items. If her wages are lower because she is a woman, that is discrimination.
  • Angel and Kevin were hired at the same time to fill two open radiologic technician roles at a local hospital, and Angel is significantly older than Kevin. Both roles have identical duties, require the same level of education and experience, and have the same performance expectations. However, Angel discovers she was offered a lower salary and no bonus plan than Kevin. If her wages are lower because of her age, that is discrimination.
  • Mary (who identifies as African American) is a computer technician at Company X, and she discovers that her white male coworker was offered a different benefits plan and bonus opportunities that she was not. This is discrimination if she was not offered these opportunities because of her race or gender.
  • Melissa and Marcus are both People Operations Managers and they have the same job responsibilities and work at the same office. They both attend an HR conference, and while Marcus is reimbursed for his flight and hotel expenses, Melissa is not.

State & Federal Wage Discrimination Laws that Protect You

There are several federal and state laws that protect employees from pay discrimination including:

  • The Equal Pay Act (EPA), which is federal legislation that prohibits wage discrimination based on a person’s sex.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which is federal legislation prohibits employment discrimination (as well as other forms of discrimination) against a person because of their race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is federal legislation that prohibits employment discrimination based on a person’s disability. This includes pay or compensation discrimination.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which is federal legislation that prohibits employment discrimination against employees age 40 or older.
  • The Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003, which is state legislation that prohibits discrimination in the pay of employees based on their sex if they perform substantially similar work under similar working conditions. Exceptions can be made if the disparity in pay is based on a merit system, a seniority system, or a system that measures earnings based on quality production or quantity.

Get Legal Help from the Law Office of Steven Fine

With over two decades of experience, our attorney is equipped to help you fight for your right to fair and equal compensation. If you wish to take your case to court, you must file a claim within two years of the unlawful compensation incident. Thus, the sooner you reach out to our team the better. Once you retain our services, we can advise you of your legal options, help you develop a solid case, and seek to prove the reasons for your lower wages were discriminatory.

Schedule a case consultation with the Law Office of Steven Fine today by calling (312) 436-0638 or reaching out online.