Equal pay, or usually more accurately the lack thereof, is a cause for many civil actions against businesses. The law, however, doesn't automatically assume that the lack of dollar-for-dollar pay between two employees represents a cause of action.
An attorney must dig for evidence that reflects the basis for the unequal treatment within an organization. Here are three things a lawyer is searching for when they examine an equal pay case.
The simplest form of evidence comes from records. During the discovery process, an attorney has the right to demand that the defendant produce any records that might be relevant to the case. While the defendant has the right to object and ask the judge to limit the scope of the search, eventually the court will expect the defendant to produce records that are likely to have relevance.
Pay records may reflect how a company paid different employees. Likewise, attorneys like to look at memos, emails, texts, audio recordings, and other communications that might indicate the disposition of the defendant, their employees, or their designees.
The mother lode in equal pay cases are statements of explicit bias. As astonishing as it is to think that anyone would make such statements, least of all on the record, it happens. In a well-run organization, even one filled with biases, it won't happen, but you never know how competent a defendant and their staff are until you check.
Your attorney will be able to go through records of the organization to determine whether any statements exist and can be used in your case. If they find several statements about a particular employee or throughout the organization overall, this may be very valuable evidence.
It's worth noting here that not all parties engaged in bad behavior believe their pay structures are unequal. It can be hard to recognize the problems with how an organization compensates employees until all the evidence is laid out.
Patterns frequently appear in employment and pay records. For example, a company might have a long habit of paying some employees more even if they have the same experience as others. That's not an easy thing to prove or disprove until you've done discovery on the records, categorized the different employees, and compared the compensation rates. Once you put it into a spreadsheet, though, you may have your answer.
For more information about working with a lawyer on an equal pay case, contact a local law firm.