South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Equal Job Titles Does Not Mean Equal Pay Is Deserved
Description Appeals court held that the Equal Pay Act was not violated by a county that paid two women department heads less than some men department heads. The pay differential was justified by educational levels required for some positions and additional duties required of others.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Equal Pay Act; Sex Discrimination
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Sandy Wheatley and Jane Grogan supervise a county emergency service department, which provides 911 Service. They sued the county, claiming violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII because male supervisors are paid significantly more than they are despite performing substantially equal managerial work. The district court dismissed the suit. Plaintiffs appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Under the Equal Pay Act, for equal pay to be required the work must be substantially equal. The plaintiffs did not perform work equal to that of male department directors and so were not entitled to equal pay. Different skills were required for different departments. Different functions are performed in different departments. For example, the head of the public works department is required to have graduate degrees in civil engineering. In contrast, plaintiffs' positions require no particular educational background. Such an educational requirement can be a basis for pay differentials. Further, some department directors have positions that require more tasks and more time; those positions pay more in recognition of the added levels of responsibilities. Just because titles within an organization are similar does not mean the work or its value is equal.

Citation Wheatley v. Wicomico County, Maryland, 390 F.3d 328 (4th Cir., 2004)

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