The Equal Pay Act (EPA), an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, requires that employers pay equal pay for equal work regardless of your gender. The law was created to protect women, but it also protects men against pay discrimination.

Under the law, work is "equal" if there is the same:

• Skill or use of practical knowledge

• Effort

• Responsibility

• Working conditions, including danger, temperature, ventilation, etc.

Under the law, "pay" includes salary, overtime, bonuses, and vacation pay. It is legal for people of different sexes to earn unequal pay if the work is not equal. For example, it is legal for a company to pay differently if one person has seniority over the other, one person has better quality or quantity of production, one person is paid more based on merit, or if there is another valid reason that has nothing to do with the person's gender.

A company can not retaliate against you for making a complaint for violations of the EPA. Also, if there is a complaint that women are being paid less than men for equal work, the company can not lower the men's pay to comply with this law.

Some exceptions apply to the types of employers who are covered and the number of employees needed to make a claim under the EPA. If you believe that you were not paid equally for equal work, you may have various options. You can file a lawsuit directly in court within a specific time or you can choose to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Contact our office or a lawyer in your area to learn more about the deadline for filing a lawsuit, making a discrimination complaint, or other information about your rights.