Does the Equal Pay Act Apply to Employees at Different Locations?
The Equal Pay Act provides as follows:
Prohibition of sex discrimination
(1) No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex: Provided, That an employer who is paying a wage rate differential in violation of this subsection shall not, in order to comply with the provisions of this subsection, reduce the wage rate of any employee.
It is possible to file a complaint under the Equal Pay Act for discrimination among pay of employees at different branches of the employer. However, the employer will often claim that the positions are substantially different. In Mowery v. Rite Aid Corp, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 14691 (6th Cir. July 17, 2002), the Sixth Circuit held that the district court improperly granted summary judgment in a case in which the plaintiff compared her pharmacist job to those of other pharmacists working for the same employer in other locations. The employer admitted that the primary duties of filling prescriptions and servicing customers were the same in each store. The employer argued that the primary differences in the jobs related to the intensity of the workload and the type of clientele at different stores. The Sixth Circuit reversed summary judgment for the employer because the employer failed to explain how these potential differences impact its wage determinations. The plaintiff was able to show that the highest paid male pharmacists were not located at the “urban” stores and that the essential duties of all pharmacists were the same.