In Texas, a woman on average earns only 79.4% of what a man doing the same job for the same employer earns. That gap is greater than the national average, and even greater for women of color. The difference in Harris County has increased since 2017. In a real-life example, this means that if a man makes $51,000, a woman in the same position is likely to early roughly $40,000. It is as if she stopped working at the end of October instead of the end of December.
To be blunt, women have less money to live on, less to support their families, less to retire on, and are more likely to live in poverty. Yet, gender wage discrimination is clearly illegal under both federal and Texas law. So, why does this keep happening, and what can we do about it?
Some of the answers may require action by the Texas legislature. But effective and prompt legal representation can also make an enormous difference.
Time is not a Woman’s Friend. Do not wait! Reach out to the Employment Lawyers at Kilgore & Kilgore.
If you are not paid what your male counterparts are paid for doing the same job, you may be the victim of illegal wage discrimination. But you must reach out to an experienced employment lawyer quickly. The deadlines for filing a claim are as short as 180 days. Instead of sitting and stewing over an unfair situation, call us.
Our employment lawyers have a wealth of experience with employment discrimination claims. Fill out and submit the form you reach by clicking on this link Contact Kilgore & Kilgore or call us at (214) 949-9099.
Texas Equal Pay Law Addresses Pay Discrimination
The Texas Equal Pay Act provides that every woman employed by the state of Texas must be paid the same as a man when performing the same kind, grade, and quantity of service and that no distinctions in compensation may be made based on sex. There is no comparable, wage-specific state law that covers private employers.
However, the Texas Human Rights Commission Act (THRCA) prohibits employment practices that discriminate based on race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, or age. The law covers employers with fifteen or more employees and is enforced by the Texas Human Rights Commission. This is the avenue available for those who work for private employers and who choose to pursue a state law claim.
Federal Laws on Pay Discrimination
The federal law known as the Equal Pay Act requires that a man or a woman in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. Their jobs need not be identical. The law prohibits gender wage discrimination if workers perform jobs mandating equal effort, responsibility, and skill in similar work environments. Its definition of “wages” includes items such as company cars, health insurance, and bonuses. Like the THRCA, it covers employers with fifteen or more employees.
Not all pay differentials are evidence of illegal discrimination. Under the federal Equal Pay Act, an employer may pay different rates to a man and a woman based on:
- a seniority system;
- a merit system;
- a wage system based upon quantity;
- a system based upon quality standards; or
- a pay rate system based on factors other than sex (such as geographical location).
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amended federal fair employment laws so that each paycheck affected by an employer’s prior discriminatory practice or decision triggers a new deadline for filing a pay discrimination claim. This law extends the deadline for filing a claim when the person who was being underpaid did not learn of the underpayment for months or even years after it occurred.
In addition to the Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment based on sex. This includes pay discrimination. The Equal Pay Act and Title VII are different in terms of how they are enforced, what they cover, and which legal remedies they offer workers, so there is often a good reason to sue under one rather than another, or under both.
In the end, however, workers who believe that they are victims of wage discrimination have a variety of choices about how to advance their claims of unlawful conduct. But evaluating and choosing among these options takes the careful advice of an experienced attorney.
How it Actually Works – the Mechanics of Filing a Claim of Pay Discrimination
If you have experienced pay discrimination by your employer in violation of federal law, you are required by law to file a claim with the EEOC within 300 days of the violation. If you want to file a claim under Texas law, you must file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission – Civil Rights Division within 180 days of your pay discrimination. Fortunately, both the EEOC and the Texas Workforce Commission accept claims for each other. So usually, if you file a claim with one, you have filed a claim automatically with the other. The time limits under the federal Equal Pay Act are slightly longer, but still short. These are administrative proceedings, and a few cases are resolved at this stage. You have the option to bring a lawsuit in either federal or state court once you receive your notice of right to sue.
In state and federal lawsuits, the individual claiming discrimination bears the initial burden of demonstrating a difference in pay for the same work. In Lindsley v. TRT Holdings, Inc., a recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals case, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit under the federal Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act. The court held that the plaintiff had shown that she was paid less than her immediate predecessors who were male. That, at the outset, was enough to maintain a claim.
In cases like these, the burden then shifts to the employer to show that the gap is the result of some nondiscriminatory reason. This can be a tricky turn to navigate, and it takes the assistance of a skillful employment law attorney.
Kilgore & Kilgore Employment Lawyers Can Help You Navigate the Options You Have in a Pay Discrimination Claim
Our Texas employment lawyers have experience with employment claims under a variety of state and federal laws. Contact us if you believe that you have been the victim of wage discrimination or other workplace problems. Reach out to us for a free review of the facts of your case. Click here to get the conversation started contact Kilgore & Kilgore. Fill out the form and we will contact you for a frank discussion of the facts of your case.