Washington

Striking Out the “Catch-All”: Growing Number of States Narrow Affirmative Defenses for Employers in Pay Equity Cases

The federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) and its many state analogs require equal pay for equal (or, in some states, “substantially similar”) work.  The EPA contains a so-called “catch-all” defense to equal pay claims, permitting wage differentials if employers can show that they are “based on any factor other than [protected category].”  But this catch-all defense has been under scrutiny in courts and legislatures around the country. As we recently reported, an en banc Ninth Circuit rejected an employer’s argument that sole reliance on prior pay could be a “factor other than sex” within the meaning of the EPA. The Ninth Circuit’s finding is an outlier among circuit courts in this respect, but it fits a broader trend to narrow the “catch-all” affirmative defense, particularly at the state level. READ MORE

No Equal Work Required: Second Circuit Rejects Strict Application of EPA Standard to Title VII Claim

The Second Circuit ruled this month in Lenzi v. Systemax, Inc. that “Title VII does not require a showing of unequal pay for equal work.”  Drawing a line between the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) and Title VII, the court held that “all Title VII requires a plaintiff to prove is that her employer ‘discriminate[d] against [her] with respect to [her] compensation . . . because of [her] . . . sex.’”

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