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In Celebration of International Women’s Day: Recent Fourth Circuit Decision Paves the Way for More Equal Pay Act Cases

Passed almost fifty-five years ago, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits gender-based pay discrimination and requires employers to provide equal pay for equal work.

Historically, federal courts allowed employers to evade the law simply by claiming that unequal pay was due to some reason aside from gender. The burden of proof was on the employee to prove that the difference was actually due to gender—all the employer had to do was point to some other reason for the wage disparity. This made it very difficult for an aggrieved employee to prevail.

Now, the tables have been turned by a recent appellate court decision that shifts the burden to the employer. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which is the highest federal court in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, ruled that summary judgment is not appropriate in Equal Pay Act cases unless the employer actually proves its defense. United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Maryland Insurance Administration, 879 F.3d 114 (4th Cir. 2018). This holding is important because it will likely result in greater use of the Equal Pay Act moving forward.

At Alan Lescht & Associates P.C., we take women’s pay equality seriously. Ten of the thirteen lawyers in our office are female, including a majority of our shareholders. If you believe that you are not receiving equal pay for equal work due to your gender, or that you have been otherwise discriminated against, give us a call today at (202) 463-6036, email us, or visit our website.

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