Magazine article HRMagazine

Equal Pay Act Defenses Clarified

Magazine article HRMagazine

Equal Pay Act Defenses Clarified

Article excerpt

Bauer v. Curators of the University of Missouri, 8th Cir., No. 11-2758 (June 6, 2012).

A "business judgment" defense does not apply in Equal Pay Act (EPA) cases, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Employers must prove affirmatively that any alleged pay differential between similarly situated male and female employees was based on a factor other than sex.

Susan Bauer, a nurse at the University of Missouri Hospital and Clinics, sued the Board of Curators, alleging a violation of the EPA. Bauer claimed that she was paid less than a man who performed substantially equal work under similar working conditions.

At trial, the district court gave the jury the following business judgment instruction: "You may not return a verdict for the plaintiffjust because you might disagree with the defendant's decision or believe it to be harsh or unreasonable." The jury found in favor of the board, and Bauer appealed.

Claims alleging pay discrimination based on sex may be brought under both the EPA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under the EPA, a claimant need only demonstrate that an employer pays men more than women (without proving discriminatory intent). To avoid liability under the EPA, an employer must prove that any pay disparity is justified by one of the following:

* A seniority system. …

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