A recent survey finds that the greatest number of discrimination cases filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concern equal pay, or the lack of it.
Data from the survey, Exploring the Climate of Workplace Discrimination from 1997 to 2018, reinforces the rise of pay equity legislation taking place across the United States. Many states and localities have passed salary history bans prohibiting employers from inquiring into the salary history of employees. At the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2019 in March. It now must be taken up by the U.S. Senate.
The report by Paychex finds that of the almost 2 million complaints filed with the EEOC, 48% dealt with equal pay discrimination claims. That’s “14x higher than any other type of discrimination,” according to the report.
The report found that over 700,000 complaints, or 35.7%, pertained to discrimination on the basis of color and race. Following closely behind, with nearly 600,000, or 28.7%, were discrimination complaints regarding sex.
An interesting takeaway from the report is the percentage of complaints that led to resolution. Twenty-two percent of the equal pay complaints filed led to a resolution favorable to the charging party. Of those cases, the average monetary benefits paid out per case was over $30,000, which was higher than any other discrimination pay out.
The EEOC appears to be making equal pay cases a priority.
For instance, the EEOC recently took action against two different organizations in Maryland for wage discrimination on the basis of gender. The agency also filed suit against the University of Miami for gender wage discrimination. In all of these cases, the EEOC asserts the organizations are in violation of the Equal Pay Act.
With the EEOC making pay discrimination a priority, employers should consider getting ahead of pay equity requirements by proactively undergoing a pay equity audit. Such an audit can help prevent negative PR, legal fees, back wages, and damages.