Can employers pay employees doing the same job different amounts of income?

Class A CDL local job meaning shifts range from 8 to 14 hours daily and home everyday. One set of

employees earn $15.30 per hour and get overtime rates after 8 hours of work. Another set of workers are paid a flat rate per run with no extra compensation over 8 hours. When averaging out the average hourly income, the drivers on a flat rate have a wide-ranging variety of incomes all of which average below what they would make if they made $15.30 per hour. Can employers pay separate subgroups of employees doing the same jobs a huge differential in per hour worked?

Asked on May 17, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Employees can be treated differently, even unfarily. That is unless doing so constitutes some form of legally actionable discrimination. In other words, lesser treatment cannot be due to their race, religion, national origin, age (over 40), disability, etc. Basically, in an "at will" employment relationship, a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. Therefore, unless this action violates the terms of a union agreement or employment contract, it is legal.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is no law requiring employers to pay employees consistently, logically, or fairly, so long as they do not discriminate against protected classes or groups. Therefore, your employer can pay different employees different, even wildly different, rates so long as it is not based on a discriminatory reason.
The primary protected classifications are race, color, national origin, sex, age over 40, disability, religion. So long as an employer is not paying people differently for one of these reasons, the differential treatment is legal. And on the other hand, if they are discriminating (e.g. paying African American or Hispanic employees less), you could contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC about filing a discrimination complaint.

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