Employers in California can get into legal trouble if they are paying a female employee less than a male employee who performs the same type of work. That’s because unequal pay for equal work is considered gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Recently, a federal appeals court concluded that there are other paths to sue for pay discrimination besides unequal pay for equal work.
In the case of Lenzi v. Systemax, Inc., et al., a woman who worked as a vice president executive claimed that she was paid less than male vice president executives at the same company. The case was originally dismissed, however, because the plaintiff could not show evidence that her duties were similar enough to the duties of the higher-paid male executives.
When the female executive’s case was brought before an appeals court, the appeals court reversed the original decision after finding that there was other evidence proving discrimination. The appeals court looked at market rate for company positions and determined that the plaintiff was paid below market rate while male employees at the company were paid above market rate. The senior executive who decided what executives would be paid was also found to have a pattern of making offensive comments about women.
Judges typically look for patterns of behavior when ruling in a workplace discrimination case. That means that a one-time incident or remark may not be substantial evidence of discrimination. If an employee has noticed many incidents of discriminatory behavior and many inappropriate remarks, the employee may have enough evidence to file a workplace discrimination claim. An attorney may be able to help an employee with this effort by gathering evidence from former employees that could support the claim.