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When Is Unequal Pay Illegal?


Allegations of unequal pay rippled through the food community in 2020. Los Angeles Times food critic Patricia Escárcega, 40, went public about a significant pay disparity between her and her white male counterpart, Bill Addison, 48.

Both Escárcega and Addison were hired at the same time to do the same job. The LA Times regularly billed them as co-critics. Yet she learned Addison made a significantly higher amount because, according to the LA Times’ response, she did not bring the same level of prestige or years of experience to the paper and their job classifications differed. Unbeknownst to her, the LA Times labeled her a junior critic when it hired her.

Does the LA Times Have a History of Pay Discrimination?

Whether the LA Times is guilty of pay discrimination in Escárcega’s case is up to a court. She filed a complaint with the LA Times Guild — the union that represents journalists at the paper. The guild expressed its support for her and urged the company to reconsider its position. Addison also privately and publicly expressed his support.

Escárcega’s claim is not the first of its kind. The LA Times and Tribune Publishing (the previous owner of the paper) recently settled a class-action lawsuit brought by 240 Black, Latinx, and woman journalists and editors. They alleged they were paid less than their white male colleagues in violation of California law. Though the companies deny any wrongdoing, $1.9 million will be divided among the journalists and editors.

Federal and State Equal Pay Laws

The Federal Equal Pay Act protects you from being paid less than another employee of a different sex when you:

  • Work in the same place
  • Perform the same or equal work

Though federal equal pay laws hope to improve pay discrimination against women, these laws apply to both sexes.

You are protected from pay and other forms of employment discrimination through Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, too. These federal laws work differently, which is why it is important to consult a Miami employment lawyer. For example, the EPA lets you file a lawsuit right away. A claim under Title VII must start by filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Florida law also prohibits wage discrimination based on sex. Your employer cannot discriminate based on sex by paying you less than what it pays employees of the opposite sex for work that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and you perform under similar working conditions.

There are exceptions, though. Florida law says employers can pay employees differently based on a:

  • Seniority system
  • Merit system
  • System that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production
  • Differential based on any reasonable factor other than sex when it is exercised in good faith

Are You Experiencing Pay Discrimination?

When you are paid less than a coworker of another sex despite doing the same or equal work, contact a Miami Equal Pay Act Lawyer right away.

Not all pay discrepancies receive the level of public attention and outrage as Escárcega’s claims. But unequal pay often happens between men and women and white individuals and people of color. Escárcega is an example of how a business rationalizes paying a woman of color far less than her white male coworker, despite her performing the same duties and being held to the same standards.

Remer, Georges-Pierre & Hoogerwoerd, PLLC is here to help. Contact us online or call (877) 757-2828 to schedule a case evaluation. We will review your circumstances and advise you on your right to file a claim under Florida or federal law.

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