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How Do You Prove Pay Discrimination?

You may be able to prove pay discrimination by finding out the salaries of your coworkers who perform the same work that you perform for the company. When a coworker of a different identity performs a similar job to the one you perform, but makes significantly more money than you do, it would be natural to wonder whether you have a pay discrimination claim. It can be difficult on your own to know whether you are being paid differently than your coworkers for similar work and what factors have played a role in your employer’s decision. This is why it's so important to retain aggressive and knowledgeable legal representation. If you are concerned about proving pay discrimination in the workplace, you should discuss your circumstances with the experienced New York City employment discrimination attorneys of Phillips and Associates.

Proving a Pay Discrimination Lawsuit Under State Law

In order to establish your pay discrimination lawsuit under the New York State Labor Law, we will need to show you have a status within one or more classes protected under the law and were paid a wage at a rate less than the rate at which an employee without status in the same workplace for:

  • Equal work for performing a job that required equal effort, skill, and responsibility under the same work conditions
  • or

  • Substantially similar work when evaluated as a combining of responsibility, effort and skill and performed under similar work conditions.

The exception is for payment differences based on a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, seniority, merit, a bona fide job-related factor other than sex or other protected characteristic, such as experience or training.

Discussing Pay

Under New York Labor Law section 194(4), your employer is not allowed to stop you and your coworkers from discussing your wages. However, your employer is allowed to institute policies that establish reasonable limits on when, where, and how inquiries regarding wages may be made. If your employer institutes such a policy, it should be in writing and provided to you. The restrictions must be:

  • Justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech
  • Narrowly tailored to serve a significant interest
  • Allow for ample different channels to talk about wages.

So long as you follow your employer’s policy, you may be able to obtain information that tends to support your pay discrimination claim informally. However, we’ll still need to prove your claim using admissible evidence when taking your case to trial. Our New York City lawyers can also look at your employer’s particular policy to give you a sense of what admissible evidence we would need to prove your case. We may be able to counsel you on how you could obtain relevant information informally, while also staying compliant with the policy.

Often workers are alerted to pay disparities inadvertently or through informal discussion after work or outside the job environment. If you become aware of a disparity that seems like a problem because it is related to your protected characteristic, is important to retain a lawyer so that he or she can conduct a more formal investigation and comprehensive discovery. In order to pursue damages on your behalf, it may be necessary for us to:

  • Interview your coworkers
  • Subpoena records
  • Take depositions
  • Conduct other discovery to determine what coworkers were paid for similar work.

In order to recover damages, we will need proof of pay discrimination under the relevant state, local, or federal antidiscrimination law.

Documentation to Prove Pay Discrimination

You should make a contemporaneous record of differences in pay you learn about through coworkers or by other means. This may involve keeping a diary in which you make entries soon or immediately after workplace events that show pay differences as they occur. You should also save any emails, letters, social media posts, or other writings that indicate there is a difference in your workplace that seems to cut along gender lines or in connection with another protected characteristic. Any of these could be evidence to prove your claim.

Prove Pay Discrimination Under the City Law

The New York City Human Rights Law covers employers with at least 4 employees. It requires equality in all aspects of a job, including salary or benefits. You should not be paid more or less than another worker based on your membership in a protected class. As with state law, you should keep a contemporaneous record to be used as evidence of pay discrimination and save all your emails. This record can also help you refresh your recollection in case you forget events over the course of litigation, which can go on for more than a year.

Prove Pay Discrimination Under Federal Equal Pay Act

Under federal law, the standard for pay discrimination based on gender is "equal pay for equal work." This is a more difficult standard that places pressure on workers trying to recover damages. However, there may be federal case law that is beneficial. We will explore all avenues for compensation.

Evidence of Pay Discrimination

It would be unusual for your employer to explicitly tell you that you are making less than other workers due to a protected characteristic, such as your sex. However, there may be rare occasions when an employer makes this admission either in writing or in the course of a conversation with you or a coworker.

Typically, our lawyers will need to prove pay discrimination by showing there is (1) unequal compensation and (2) the unequal compensation is due to your protected characteristic through direct or circumstantial evidence. We will try to establish a causal relationship between an equal pay violation and your protected characteristic. For example, if you are Asian American and you and all your Asian American coworkers are being paid less than all your white coworkers for the same work, you may be able to prove pay discrimination through evidence of these disparities.

Hire an Experienced Pay Discrimination Lawyer

Proving you were treated differently than your coworkers with regard to pay can be an uphill battle. You may wondering how you prove pay discrimination. However, our experienced New York City employment discrimination attorneys understand what kinds of strategies are likely to be successful before and during trial. Phillips & Associates has years of representing workers who have been paid unfairly in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, or Nassau County. We offer free consultations. Call us at (833) 529-3476 or complete our online form.

What Our Clients Say?
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"Phillips & Associates did a wonderful job. I would recommend Brittany Stevens." Angel
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"Employment dispute I had a dispute with my former employer, Jesse Weinstein was patient and thorough with my case. He covered every angle and was able to help me with my dispute. I would recommend Jesse Weinstein and Phillips and Associates in the future to anyone." Margaret
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"Hands down the best law firm for labor disputes in NYC. Being in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years I can say that this law firm is the number one choice for workers in the restaurant business that need to sue their company for wrongful termination. A special compliment to my lawyer Brittany Stevens. An amazing person and well prepared experienced lawyer. She was professional and empathetic to my case and worked in a time appropriate manner. She never miss a phone call at any hour of the day. Brittany and her team helped me with what I needed, when I needed it. I want to thank them all (especially Brittany), for a job well done." Massimo
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"Jesse Weinstein handled my discrimination case. He was extremely patient and understanding throughout the process and remained professional and consistent even when I could not. I really felt like he had my back and I didn't have to worry. His expertise, combined with the experience of the Firm, resulted in the best possible outcome of my case. Although I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone, things do and always will happen and I would highly recommend Jesse and this Firm to anyone facing discrimination or other workplace issues." Karen
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