Is there any law that prohibits companies from paying 1 person $18 and another $13 an hour for the same responsibilities?

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Is there any law that prohibits companies from paying 1 person $18 and another $13 an hour for the same responsibilities?

Additionally, added clerical responsibilities once an office worker was laid off for no additional pay. Essentially, is there any law that prohibits a company from low-balling one employee and providing top pay for another?

Asked on August 1, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, there is no law preventing a company from paying two employees very different amounts for the same responsibilities, or giving one employee extra work with no pay, with the one exception below. Other than that exception, companies are free to be inconsistent, play favorites, be unfair, etc.

The exception: a company may not treat one employee different than another because of his or her membership in a protected group or class. The main protected categories are age (over 40); race; religion; disability; and sex. If one employee is treated better or worse than another because, for example, she is a woman, that is illegal. Note that this does not mean, for example, that an African American cannot be paid less than a caucasion, or a woman less than a man, or a Muslim less than a Christian, etc. It merely means that the race, sex, religion, etc. cannot be the reason for the different treatment. However, there are many legal reasons for different treatament, including favortism, nepotism, friendship, personal likes and dislikes, etc., as well as more "job related" reasons, such as seniority, time in service, and experience/credentials.

In addition to the above categories, many (but NOT all) states add additional protected groups, such as based on national origin, family status, or sexual orientation.

If you believe that the reason for the different treatment is because of a protected group characteristic, you should contact your state's equal/civil rights division or department, or speak with an employment law attorney.


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