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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of July 30, 2014

Title 29: Labor


PART 1620—THE EQUAL PAY ACT


Contents
§1620.1   Basic applicability of the Equal Pay Act.
§1620.2   General coverage of employees “engaged in commerce.”
§1620.3   General coverage of employees “engaged in *  *  * the production of goods for commerce.”
§1620.4   “Closely related” and “directly essential” activities.
§1620.5   What goods are considered as “produced for commerce.”
§1620.6   Coverage is not based on amount of covered activity.
§1620.7   “Enterprise” coverage.
§1620.8   “Employer,” “employee,” and “employ” defined.
§1620.9   Meaning of “establishment.”
§1620.10   Meaning of “wages.”
§1620.11   Fringe benefits.
§1620.12   Wage “rate.”
§1620.13   “Equal Work”—What it means.
§1620.14   Testing equality of jobs.
§1620.15   Jobs requiring equal skill in performance.
§1620.16   Jobs requiring equal effort in performance.
§1620.17   Jobs requiring equal responsibility in performance.
§1620.18   Jobs performed under similar working conditions.
§1620.19   Equality of wages—application of the principle.
§1620.20   Pay differentials claimed to be based on extra duties.
§1620.21   Head of household.
§1620.22   Employment cost not a “factor other than sex.”
§1620.23   Collective bargaining agreements not a defense.
§1620.24   Time unit for determining violations.
§1620.25   Equalization of rates.
§1620.26   Red circle rates.
§1620.27   Relationship to the Equal Pay Act of title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
§1620.28   Relationship to other equal pay laws.
§1620.29   Relationship to other labor laws.
§1620.30   Investigations and compliance assistance.
§1620.31   Issuance of subpoenas.
§1620.32   Recordkeeping requirements.
§1620.33   Recovery of wages due; injunctions; penalties for willful violations.
§1620.34   Rules to be liberally construed.

Authority: Sec. 1-19, 52 Stat. 1060, as amended; sec. 10, 61 Stat. 84; Pub. L. 88-38, 77 Stat. 56 (29 U.S.C. 201 et seq.); sec. 1, Reorg. Plan No. 1 of 1978, 43 FR 19807; E.O. 12144, 44 FR 37193.

Source: 51 FR 29819, Aug. 20, 1986, unless otherwise noted.

§1620.1   Basic applicability of the Equal Pay Act.

(a) Since the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. 206(d) (hereinafter referred to as the EPA), is a part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201, et seq. (hereinafter referred to as the FLSA), it has the same basic coverage as the FLSA with two principal exceptions:

(1) The EPA applies to executive, administrative, and professional employees who are normally exempted from the FLSA for most purposes by section 13(a)(1) of that statute, and

(2) The EPA covers all State and local government employees unless they are specifically exempted under section 3(e)(2)(C) of the FLSA.

(b) The EPA does not apply where the employer has no employees who are engaged in commerce or in the handling of goods that have moved in commerce and the employer is not an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.

(c) Men are protected under the Act equally with women. While the EPA was motivated by concern for the weaker bargaining position of women, the Act by its express terms applies to both sexes.

(d) Most employees of the United States Government, as described in section 3(e)(2) (A) and (B) of the FLSA, are covered by the EPA. Accordingly, these interpretations and principles may generally be applied to Federal sector employment.

§1620.2   General coverage of employees “engaged in commerce.”

(a) Like the FLSA, the EPA applies to employees “engaged in commerce.” “Commerce” is broadly defined in section 3(b) of the FLSA. It includes both interstate and foreign commerce and is not limited to transportation across State lines, or to activity of a commercial character. All parts of the movement among the several States, or between any State and any place outside thereof, of persons or things, tangibles or intangibles, including communication of information and intelligence, constitute movement in “commerce” within the statutory definition. This includes those parts of any such activity which take place wholly within a single State. In addition, the instrumentalities for carrying on such commerce are so inseparable from the commerce itself that employees working on such instrumentalities within the borders of a single State, by virtue of the contribution made by their work to the movement of the commerce, are “engaged in commerce” within the meaning of the FLSA.

(b) Consistent with the purpose of the FLSA to apply Federal standards “throughout the farthest reaches of the channels of interstate commerce,” the courts have made it clear that the employees “engaged in commerce” include every employee employed in the channels of such commerce or in activities so closely related to such commerce as to be considered a part of it as a practical matter. Engaging “in commerce” includes activities connected therewith such as management and control of the various physical processes, together with the accompanying accounting and clerical activities. Thus, employees engaged in interstate or foreign commerce will typically include, among others, employees in distributing industries such as wholesaling or retailing who sell, transport, handle, or otherwise work on goods moving in interstate or foreign commerce as well as workers who order, receive, guard, pack, ship or keep records of such goods; employees who handle payroll or personnel functions for workers engaged in such activities; clerical and other workers who regularly use the mails, telephone, or telegraph for communication across State lines; and employees who regularly travel across State lines while working. For other examples, see 29 CFR part 776.

§1620.3   General coverage of employees “engaged in *  *  * the production of goods for commerce.”

(a) Like the FLSA, the EPA applies to employees “engaged in *  *  * the production of goods for commerce.” The broad meaning of “commerce” as defined in section 3(b) of the FLSA has been outlind in §1620.2. “Goods” is also comprehensively defined in section 3(i) of the FLSA and includes “articles or subjects of commerce of any character, or any part or ingredient thereof” not expressly excepted by the statute. The activities constituting “production” of the goods for commerce are defined in section 3(j) of the FLSA. These are not limited to such work as manufacturing but include handling or otherwise working on goods intended for shipment out of the State either directly or indirectly or for use within the State to serve the needs of the instrumentalities or facilities by which interstate or foreign commerce is carried on. Employees engaged in any closely related process or occupation directly essential to such production of any goods, whether employed by the producer or by an independent employer, are also engaged, by definition, in “production.” Thus, employees engaged in the administration, planning, management, and control of the various physical processes together with the accompanying clerical and accounting activities are, from a productive standpoint and for purposes of the FLSA, “engaged in the production of goods for commerce.”

(b) Employees engaged in the production of goods for interstate or foreign commerce include those who work in manufacturing, processing, and distributing establishments, including wholesale and retail establishments that “produce” (including handling or working on) goods for such commerce. This includes everyone employed in such establishments, or elsewhere in the enterprises by which they are operated, whose activities constitute “production” of such goods under the principles outlined in paragraph (a) of this section. Thus, employees who sell, process, load, pack, or otherwise handle or work on goods which are to be shipped or delivered outside the State either by their employer or by another firm, and either in the same form or as a part or ingredient of other goods, are engaged in the production of goods for commerce within the coverage of the FLSA. So also are the office, management, sales, and shipping personnel, and maintenance, custodial, and protective employees who perform as a part of the integrated effort for the production of the goods for commerce, services related to such production or to such goods or to the plant, equipment, or personnel by which the production is accomplished.

§1620.4   “Closely related” and “directly essential” activities.

An employee is engaged in the production of goods for interstate or foreign commerce within the meaning of the FLSA even if the employees's work is not an actual and direct part of such production, so long as the employee is engaged in a process or occupation which is “closely related” and “directly essential” to it. This is true whether the employee is employed by the producer of the goods or by someone else who provides goods or services to the producer. Typical of employees covered under these principles are computer operators, bookkeepers, stenographers, clerks, accountants, and auditors and other office and whitecollar workers, and employees doing payroll, timekeeping, and time study work for the producer of goods; employees in the personnel, labor relations, employee benefits, safety and health, advertising, promotion, and public relations activities of the producing enterprise; work instructors for the producers; employees maintaining, servicing, repairing or improving the buildings, machinery, equipment, vehicles or other facilities used in the production of goods for commerce, and such custodial and productive employees as watchmen, guards, firemen, patrolmen, caretakers, stockroom workers and warehousemen; and transportation workers bringing supplies, materials, or equipment to the producer's premises, removing waste materials therefrom, or transporting materials or other goods, or performing such other transportation activities, as the needs of production may require. These examples are illustrative, rather than exhaustive, of the employees who are “engaged in the production of goods for commerce” by reason of performing activities closely related and directly essential to such production.

§1620.5   What goods are considered as “produced for commerce.”

Goods (as defined in section 3(i) of the FLSA) are “produced for commerce” if they are “produced, manufactured, mined, handled or in any other manner worked on” in any State for sale, trade, transportation, transmission, shipment, or delivery, to any place outside thereof. Goods are produced for commerce where the producer intends, hopes, expects, or has reason to believe that the goods or any unsegregated part of them will move (in the same or in an altered form or as a part of ingredient of other goods) in interstate or foreign commerce. If such movement of the goods in commerce can reasonably be anticipated by the producer when the goods are produced, it makes no difference whether the producer or the person to whom the goods are transferred puts the goods in interstate or foreign commerce. The fact that goods do move in interstate or foreign commerce is strong evidence that the producer intended, hoped, expected, or had reason to believe that they would so move. Goods may also be produced “for commerce” where they are to be used within the State and not transported in any form across State lines. This is true where the goods are used to serve the needs of the instrumentalities or facilities by which interstate or foreign commerce is carried on within the State. For examples, see 29 CFR 776.20.

§1620.6   Coverage is not based on amount of covered activity.

The FLSA makes no distinction as to the percentage, volume, or amount of activities of either the employee or the employer which constitute engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. Every employee whose activities in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, even though small in amount, are regular and recurring, is considered “engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce”.

§1620.7   “Enterprise” coverage.

(a) The terms “enterprise” and “enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce” are defined in subsections 3(r) and 3(s) of the FLSA. Under the enterprise concept, if a business is an “enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce,” every employee employed in such enterprise or by such enterprise is within the coverage of the EPA unless specifically exempted in the FLSA, regardless of whether the individual employee is actually engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. The term “enterprise” is not synonymous with the terms “employer” or “establishment” although on occasion the three terms may apply to the same business entity. An enterprise may consist of a single establishment operated by one or more employers. (See definitions of “employer” and “establishment” in §§1620.8 and 1620.9.)

(b) In order to constitute an enterprise, the activities sought to be aggregated must be related to each other, they must be performed under a unified operation or common control, and they must be performed for a common business purpose. Activities are related when they are the same or similar, or when they are auxiliary services necessary to the operation and maintenance of the particular business. Activities constitute a unified operation when the activities are operated as a single business unit or economic entity. Activities are performed under common control when the power to direct, restrict, regulate, govern or administer the performance of the activities resides in a single person or entity or when it is shared by a group of persons or entities. Activities are performed for a common business purpose when they are directed to the same or similar business objectives. A determination whether the statutory characteristics of an enterprise are present in any particular case must be made on a case-by-case basis. See generally, subpart C of 29 CFR part 779 for a detailed discussion of the term “enterprise” under the FLSA.

§1620.8   “Employer,” “employee,” and “employ” defined.

The words “employer,” “employee,” and “employ” as used in the EPA are defined in the FLSA. Economic reality rather than technical concepts determines whether there is employment within the meaning of the EPA. The common law test based upon the power to control the manner of performance is not applicable to the determination of whether an employment relationship subject to the EPA exists. An “employer,” as defined in section 3(d) of the FLSA, means “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee” and includes a “public agency,” as defined in section 3(x). An “employee,” as defined in section 3(e) of the FLSA, “means any individual employed by an employer.” “Employ,” as used in the EPA, is defined in section 3(g) of the FLSA to include “to suffer or permit to work.” Two or more employers may be both jointly or severally responsible for compliance with the statutory requirements applicable to employment of a particular employee.

§1620.9   Meaning of “establishment.”

(a) Although not expressly defined in the FLSA, the term “establishment” had acquired a well settled meaning by the time of enactment of the Equal Pay Act. It refers to a distinct physical place of business rather than to an entire business or “enterprise” which may include several separate places of business. Accordingly, each physically separate place of business is ordinarily considered a separate establishment.

(b) In unusual circumstances, two or more portions of a business enterprise, even though located in a single physical place of business, may constitute more than one establishment. For example, the facts might reveal that these portions of the enterprise are physically segregated, engaged in functionally separate operations, and have separate employees and maintain separate records. Conversely, unusual circumstances may call for two or more distinct physical portions of a business enterprise being treated as a single establishment. For example, a central administrative unit may hire all employees, set wages, and assign the location of employment; employees may frequently interchange work locations; and daily duties may be virtually identical and performed under similar working conditions. Barring unusual circumstances, however, the term “establishment” will be applied as described in paragraph (a) of this section.

§1620.10   Meaning of “wages.”

Under the EPA, the term “wages” generally includes all payments made to [or on behalf of] an employee as remuneration for employment. The term includes all forms of compensation irrespective of the time of payment, whether paid periodically or deferred until a later date, and whether called wages, salary, profit sharing, expense account, monthly minimum, bonus, uniform cleaning allowance, hotel accommodations, use of company car, gasoline allowance, or some other name. Fringe benefits are deemed to be remuneration for employment. “Wages” as used in the EPA (the purpose of which is to assure men and women equal remuneration for equal work) will therefore include payments which may not be counted under section 3(m) of the FLSA toward the minimum wage (the purpose of which is to assure employees a minimum amount of remuneration unconditionally available in cash or in board, lodging or other facilities). Similarly, the provisions of section 7(e) of the FLSA under which some payments may be excluded in computing an employee's “regular rate” of pay for purposes of section 7 do not authorize the exclusion of any such remuneration from the “wages” of an employee in applying the EPA. Thus, vacation and holiday pay, and premium payments for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, regular days of rest or other days or hours in excess or outside of the employee's regular days or hours of work are deemed remuneration for employment and therefore wage payments that must be considered in applying the EPA, even though not a part of the employee's “regular rate.”

§1620.11   Fringe benefits.

(a) “Fringe benefits” includes, e.g., such terms as medical, hospital, accident, life insurance and retirement benefits; profit sharing and bonus plans; leave; and other such concepts.

(b) It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate between men and women performing equal work with regard to fringe benefits. Differences in the application of fringe benefit plans which are based upon sex-based actuarial studies cannot be justified as based on “any other factor other than sex.”

(c) Where an employer conditions benefits available to employees and their spouses and families on whether the employee is the “head of the household” or “principal wage earner” in the family unit, the overall implementation of the plan will be closely scrutinized.

(d) It is unlawful for an employer to make available benefits for the spouses or families of employees of one gender where the same benefits are not made available for the spouses or families of opposite gender employees.

(e) It shall not be a defense under the EPA to a charge of sex discrimination in benefits that the cost of such benefits is greater with respect to one sex than the other.

(f) It is unlawful for an employer to have a pension or retirement plan which, with respect to benefits, establishes different optional or compulsory retirement ages based on sex or which otherwise differentiates in benefits on the basis of sex.

[51 FR 29816, Aug. 20, 1986; 51 FR 32636, Sept. 15, 1986]

§1620.12   Wage “rate.”

(a) The term wage “rate,” as used in the EPA, refers to the standard or measure by which an employee's wage is determined and is considered to encompass all rates of wages whether calculated on a time, commission, piece, job incentive, profit sharing, bonus, or other basis. The term includes the rate at which overtime compensation or other special remuneration is paid as well as the rate at which straight time compensation for ordinary work is paid. It further includes the rate at which a draw, advance, or guarantee is paid against a commission settlement.

(b) Where a higher wage rate is paid to one gender than the other for the performance of equal work, the higher rate serves as a wage standard. When a violation of the Act is established, the higher rate paid for equal work is the standard to which the lower rate must be raised to remedy a violation of the Act.

§1620.13   “Equal Work”—What it means.

(a) In general. The EPA prohibits discrimination by employers on the basis of sex in the wages paid for “equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility and which are performed under similar working conditions  *  *  *.” The word “requires” does not connote that an employer must formally assign the equal work to the employee; the EPA applies if the employer knowingly allows the employee to perform the equal work. The equal work standard does not require that compared jobs be identical, only that they be substantially equal.

(b) “Male jobs” and “female jobs.” (1) Wage classification systems which designate certain jobs as “male jobs” and other jobs as “female jobs” frequently specify markedly lower rates for the “females jobs.” Such practices indicate a pay practice of discrimination based on sex. It should also be noted that it is an unlawful employment practice under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to classify a job as “male” or “female” unless sex is a bona fide occupational qualification for the job.

(2) The EPA prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in the payment of wages to employees for work on jobs which are equal under the standards which the Act provides. For example, where an employee of one sex is hired or assigned to a particular job to replace an employee of the opposite sex but receives a lower rate of pay than the person replaced, a prima facie violation of the EPA exists. When a prima facie violation of the EPA exists, it is incumbent on the employer to show that the wage differential is justified under one or more of the Act's four affirmative defenses.

(3) The EPA applies when all employees of one sex are removed from a particular job (by transfer or discharge) so as to retain employees of only one sex in a job previously performed interchangeably or concurrently by employees of both sexes. If a prohibited sex-based wage differential had been established or maintained in violation of the EPA when the job was being performed by employees of both sexes, the employer's obligation to pay the higher rate for the job cannot be avoided or evaded by the device of later confining the job to members of the lower paid sex.

(4) If a person of one sex succeeds a person of the opposite sex on a job at a higher rate of pay than the predecessor, and there is no reason for the higher rate other than difference in gender, a violation as to the predecessor is established and that person is entitled to recover the difference between his or her pay and the higher rate paid the successor employee.

(5) It is immaterial that a member of the higher paid sex ceased to be employed prior to the period covered by the applicable statute of limitations period for filing a timely suit under the EPA. The employer's continued failure to pay the member of the lower paid sex the wage rate paid to the higher paid predecessor constitutes a prima facie continuing violation. Also, it is no defense that the unequal payments began prior to the statutory period.

(c) Standards for determining rate of pay. The rate of pay must be equal for persons performing equal work on jobs requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. When factors such as seniority, education, or experience are used to determine the rate of pay, then those standards must be applied on a sex neutral basis.

(d) Inequalities in pay that raise questions under the Act. It is necessary to scrutinize those inequalities in pay between employees of opposite sexes which may indicate a pattern of discrimination in wage payment that is based on sex. Thus, a serious question would be raised where such an inequality, allegedly based on a difference in job content, is in fact one in which the employee occupying the job purportedly requiring the higher degree of skill, effort, or responsibility receives the lower wage rate. Likewise, because the EPA was designed to eliminate wage rate differentials which are based on sex, situations will be carefully scrutinized where employees of only one sex are concentrated in the lower levels of the wage scale, and where there does not appear to be any material relationship other than sex between the lower wage rates paid to such employees and the higher rates paid to employees of the opposite sex.

(e) Job content controlling. Application of the equal pay standard is not dependent on job classifications or titles but depends rather on actual job requirements and performance. For example, the fact that jobs performed by male and female employees may have the same total point value under an evaluation system in use by the employer does not in itself mean that the jobs concerned are equal according to the terms of the statute. Conversely, although the point values allocated to jobs may add up to unequal totals, it does not necessarily follow that the work being performed in such jobs is unequal when the statutory tests of the equal pay standard are applied. Job titles are frequently of such a general nature as to provide very little guidance in determining the application of the equal pay standard. For example, the job title “clerk” may be applied to employees who perform a variety of duties so dissimilar as to place many of them beyond the scope of comparison under the Act. Similarly, jobs included under the title “stock clerk” may include an employee of one sex who spends all or most of his or her working hours in shifting and moving goods in the establishment whereas another employee, of the opposite sex, may also be described as a “stock clerk” but be engaged entirely in checking inventory. In the case of jobs identified by the general title “retail clerk”, the facts may show that equal skill, effort, and responsibility are required in the jobs of male and female employees notwithstanding that they are engaged in selling different kinds of merchandise. In all such situations, the application of the equal pay standard will have to be determined by applying the terms of the Act to the specific facts involved.

§1620.14   Testing equality of jobs.

(a) In general. What constitutes equal skill, equal effort, or equal responsibility cannot be precisely defined. In interpreting these key terms of the statute, the broad remedial purpose of the law must be taken into consideration. The terms constitute separate tests, each of which must be met in order for the equal pay standard to apply. It should be kept in mind that “equal” does not mean “identical.” Insubstantial or minor differences in the degree or amount of skill, or effort, or responsibility required for the performance of jobs will not render the equal pay standard inapplicable. On the other hand, substantial differences, such as those customarily associated with differences in wage levels when the jobs are performed by persons of one sex only, will ordinarily demonstrate an inequality as between the jobs justifying differences in pay. However, differences in skill, effort or responsibility which might be sufficient to justify a finding that two jobs are not equal within the meaning of the EPA if the greater skill, effort, or responsibility has been required of the higher paid sex, do not justify such a finding where the greater skill, effort, or responsibility is required of the lower paid sex. In determining whether job differences are so substantial as to make jobs unequal, it is pertinent to inquire whether and to what extent significance has been given to such differences in setting the wage levels for such jobs. Such an inquiry may, for example, disclose that apparent differences between jobs have not been recognized as relevant for wage purposes and that the facts as a whole support the conclusion that the differences are too insubstantial to prevent the jobs from being equal in all significant respects under the law.

(b) Illustrations of the concept. Where employees of opposite sexes are employed in jobs in which the duties they are required to perform and the working conditions are substantially the same, except that an employee of one sex is required to perform some duty or duties involving a higher skill which an employee of the other sex is not required to perform, the fact that the duties are different in this respect is insufficient to remove the jobs from the application of the equal pay standard if it also appears that the employer is paying a lower wage rate to the employee performing the additional duties notwithstanding the additional skill which they involve. In other situations, where employees of the opposite sex are employed in jobs which are equal in the levels of skill, effort, and responsibility required for their performance, it may be alleged that the assignment to employees of one sex but not the other of certain duties requiring less skill makes the jobs too different for comparison under the equal pay provisions. But so long as the higher level of skill is required for the performance of the jobs occupied by employees of both sexes, the fact that some of the duties assigned to employees of one sex require less skill than the employee must have for the job as a whole does not warrant any conclusion that the jobs are outside the purview of the equal pay standard.

(c) Determining equality of job content in general. In determining whether employees are performing equal work within the meaning of the EPA, the amounts of time which employees spend in the performance of different duties are not the sole criteria. It is also necessary to consider the degree of difference in terms of skill, effort, and responsibility. These factors are related in such a manner that a general standard to determine equality of jobs cannot be set up solely on the basis of a percentage of time. Consequently, a finding that one job requires employees to expend greater effort for a certain percentage of their working time than employees performing another job, would not in itself establish that the two jobs do not constitute equal work. Similarly, the performance of jobs on different machines or equipment would not necessarily result in a determination that the work so performed is unequal within the meaning of the statute if the equal pay provisions otherwise apply. If the difference in skill or effort required for the operation of such equipment is inconsequential, payment of a higher wage rate to employees of one sex because of a difference in machines or equipment would constitute a prohibited wage rate differential. Where greater skill or effort is required from the lower paid sex, the fact that the machines or equipment used to perform substantially equal work are different does not defeat a finding that the EPA has been violated. Likewise, the fact that jobs are performed in different departments or locations within the establishment would not necessarily be sufficient to demonstrate that unequal work is involved where the equal pay standard otherwise applies. This is particularly true in the case of retail establishments, and unless a showing can be made by the employer that the sale of one article requires such higher degree of skill or effort than the sale of another article as to render the equal pay standard inapplicable, it will be assumed that the salesmen and saleswomen concerned are performing equal work. Although the equal pay provisions apply on an establishment basis and the jobs to be compared are those in the particular establishment, all relevant evidence that may demonstrate whether the skill, effort, and responsibility required in the jobs in the particular establishment are equal should be considered, whether this relates to the performance of like jobs in other establishments or not.

§1620.15   Jobs requiring equal skill in performance.

(a) In general. The jobs to which the equal pay standard is applicable are jobs requiring equal skill in their performance. Where the amount or degree of skill required to perform one job is substantially greater than that required to perform another job, the equal pay standard cannot apply even though the jobs may be equal in all other respects. Skill includes consideration of such factors as experience, training, education, and ability. It must be measured in terms of the performance requirements of the job. If an employee must have essentially the same skill in order to perform either of two jobs, the jobs will qualify under the EPA as jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, even though the employee in one of the jobs may not exercise the required skill as frequently or during as much of his or her working time as the employee in the other job. Possession of a skill not needed to meet the requirements of the job cannot be considered in making a determination regarding equality of skill. The efficiency of the employee's performance in the job is not in itself an appropriate factor to consider in evaluating skill.

(b) Comparing skill requirements of jobs. As a simple illustration of the principle of equal skill, suppose that a man and a woman have jobs classified as administrative assistants. Both jobs require them to spend two-thirds of their working time facilitating and supervising support-staff duties, and the remaining one-third of their time in diversified tasks, not necessarily the same. Since there is no difference in the skills required for the vast majority of their work, whether or not these jobs require equal skill in performance will depend upon the nature of the work performed during the latter period to meet the requirements of the jobs.

§1620.16   Jobs requiring equal effort in performance.

(a) In general. The jobs to which the equal pay standard is applicable are jobs that require equal effort to perform. Where substantial differences exist in the amount or degree of effort required to be expended in the performance of jobs, the equal pay standard cannot apply even though the jobs may be equal in all other respects. Effort is concerned with the measurement of the physical or mental exertion needed for the performance of a job. Job factors which cause mental fatigue and stress, as well as those which alleviate fatigue, are to be considered in determining the effort required by the job. “Effort” encompasses the total requirements of a job. Where jobs are otherwise equal under the EPA, and there is no substantial difference in the amount or degree of effort which must be expended in performing the jobs under comparison, the jobs may require equal effort in their performance even though the effort may be exerted in different ways on the two jobs. Differences only in the kind of effort required to be expended in such a situation will not justify wage differentials.

(b) Comparing effort requirements of jobs. To illustrate the principle of equal effort exerted in different ways, suppose that a male checker employed by a supermarket is required to spend part of his time carrying out heavy packages or replacing stock involving the lifting of heavy items whereas a female checker is required to devote an equal degree of effort during a similar portion of her time to performing fill-in work requiring greater dexterity—such as rearranging displays of spices or other small items. The difference in kind of effort required of the employees does not appear to make their efforts unequal in any respect which would justify a wage differential, where such differences in kind of effort expended to perform the job are not ordinarily considered a factor in setting wage levels. Further, the occasional or sporadic performance of an activity which may require extra physical or mental exertion is not alone sufficient to justify a finding of unequal effort. Suppose, however, that men and women are working side by side on a line assembling parts. Suppose further that one of the men who performs the operations at the end of the line must also lift the assembly, as he completes his part of it, and places it on a waiting pallet. In such a situation, a wage rate differential might be justified for the person (but only for the person) who is required to expend the extra effort in the performance of his job, provided that the extra effort so expended is substantial and is performed over a considerable portion of the work cycle. In general, a wage rate differential based on differences in the degree or amount of effort required for performance of jobs must be applied uniformly to men and women. For example, if all women and some men performing a particular type of job never perform heavy lifting, but some men do, payment of a higher wage rate to all of the men would constitute a prohibited wage rate differential if the equal pay provisions otherwise apply.

§1620.17   Jobs requiring equal responsibility in performance.

(a) In general. The equal pay standard applies to jobs the performance of which requires equal responsibility. Responsibility is concerned with the degree of accountability required in the performance of the job, with emphasis on the importance of the job obligation. Differences in the degree of responsibility required in the performance of otherwise equal jobs cover a wide variety of situations. The following illustrations in subsection (b), while by no means exhaustive, may suggest the nature or degree of differences in responsibility which will constitute unequal work.

(b) Comparing responsibility requirements of jobs. (1) There are many situations where one employee of a group performing jobs which are equal in other respects is required from time to time to assume supervisory duties for reasons such as the absence of the regular supervisor. Suppose, for instance, that it is the employer's practice to pay a higher wage rate to such a “relief” supervisor with the understanding that during the intervals in which the employee performs supervisory duties the employee is in training for a supervisory position. In such a situation, payment of the higher rate to the employee might well be based solely on the additional responsibility required to perform the job and the equal pay provisions would not require the same rates to be paid to an employee of the opposite sex in the group who does not have an equal responsibility. There would clearly be no question concerning such a wage rate differential if the employer pays the higher rate to both men and women who are called upon from time to time to assume such supervisory responsibilities.

(2) Other differences in responsibilities of employees in generally similar jobs may require similar conclusions. Sales clerks, for example, who are engaged primarily in selling identical or similar merchandise may be given different responsibilities. Suppose that one employee of such a group (who may be either a man or a woman) is authorized and required to determine whether to accept payment for purchases by personal checks of customers. The person having this authority to accept personal checks may have a considerable, additional degree of responsibility which may materially affect the business operations of the employer. In this situation, payment of a higher wage rate to this employee would be permissible.

(3) On the other hand, there are situations where one employee of the group may be given some minor responsibility which the others do not have (e.g., turning out the lights in his or her department at the end of the business day) but which is not of sufficient consequence or importance to justify a finding of unequal responsibility. As another example of a minor difference in responsibility, suppose that office employees of both sexes work in jobs essentially alike but at certain intervals a male and female employee performing otherwise equal work within the meaning of the statute are responsible for the office payroll. One of these employees may be assigned the job of checking time cards and compiling the payroll list. The other, of the opposite sex, may be required to make out paychecks, or divide up cash and put the proper amounts into pay envelopes after drawing a payroll check. In such circumstances, although some of the employees' duties are occasionally dissimilar, the difference in responsibility involved would not appear to be of a kind that is recognized in wage administration as a significant factor in determining wage rates. Under such circumstances, this difference would seem insufficient to justify a wage rate differential between the man's and woman's job if the equal pay provisions otherwise apply.

§1620.18   Jobs performed under similar working conditions.

(a) In general. In order for the equal pay standard to apply, the jobs are required to be performed under similar working conditions. It should be noted that the EPA adopts the flexible standard of similarity as a basis for testing this requirement. In determining whether the requirement is met, a practical judgment is required in light of whether the differences in working conditions are the kind customarily taken into consideration in setting wage levels. The mere fact that jobs are in different departments of an establishment will not necessarily mean that the jobs are performed under dissimilar working conditions. This may or may not be the case. The term “similar working conditions” encompasses two subfactors: “surroundings” and “hazards.” “Surroundings” measure the elements, such as toxic chemicals or fumes, regularly encountered by a worker, their intensity and their frequency. “Hazards” take into account the physical hazards regularly encountered, their frequency and the severity of injury they can cause. The phrase “working conditions” does not encompass shift differentials.

(b) Determining similarity of working conditions. Generally, employees performing jobs requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility are likely to be performing them under similar working conditions. However, in situations where some employees performing work meeting these standards have working conditions substantially different from those required for the performance of other jobs, the equal pay principle would not apply. On the other hand, slight or inconsequential differences in working conditions which are not usually taken into consideration by employers or in collective bargaining in setting wage rates would not justify a differential in pay.

§1620.19   Equality of wages—application of the principle.

Equal wages must be paid in the same medium of exchange. In addition, an employer would be prohibited from paying higher hourly rates to all employees of one sex and then attempting to equalize the differential by periodically paying employees of the opposite sex a bonus. Comparison can be made for equal pay purposes between employees employed in equal jobs in the same establishment although they work in different departments.

§1620.20   Pay differentials claimed to be based on extra duties.

Additional duties may not be a defense to the payment of higher wages to one sex where the higher pay is not related to the extra duties. The Commission will scrutinize such a defense to determine whether it is bona fide. For example, an employer cannot successfully assert an extra duties defense where:

(a) Employees of the higher paid sex receive the higher pay without doing the extra work;

(b) Members of the lower paid sex also perform extra duties requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility;

(c) The proffered extra duties do not in fact exist;

(d) The extra task consumes a minimal amount of time and is of peripheral importance; or

(e) Third persons (i.e., individuals who are not in the two groups of employees being compared) who do the extra task as their primary job are paid less than the members of the higher paid sex for whom there is an attempt to justify the pay differential.

§1620.21   Head of household.

Since a “head of household” or “head of family” status bears no relationship to the requirements of the job or to the individual's performance on the job, such a claimed defense to an alleged EPA violation will be closely scrutinized as stated in §1620.11(c).

§1620.22   Employment cost not a “factor other than sex.”

A wage differential based on claimed differences between the average cost of employing workers of one sex as a group and the average cost of employing workers of the opposite sex as a group is discriminatory and does not qualify as a differential based on any “factor other than sex,” and will result in a violation of the equal pay provisions, if the equal pay standard otherwise applies.

§1620.23   Collective bargaining agreements not a defense.

The establishment by collective bargaining or inclusion in a collective bargaining agreement of unequal rates of pay does not constitute a defense available to either an employer or to a labor organization. Any and all provisions in a collective bargaining agreement which provide unequal rates of pay in conflict with the requirements of the EPA are null and void and of no effect.

§1620.24   Time unit for determining violations.

In applying the various tests of equality to the requirements for the performance of particular jobs, it is necessary to scrutinize each job as a whole and to look at the characteristics of the jobs being compared over a full work cycle. For the purpose of such a comparison, the appropriate work cycle to be determined would be that performed by members of the lower paid sex and a comparison then made with job duties performed by members of the higher paid sex during a similar work cycle. The appropriate work cycle will be determined by an examination of the facts of each situation. For example, where men and women custodial workers in a school system perform equal work during the academic year, but the men perform additional duties in the summer months, the appropriate work cycle for EPA purposes would be the academic year. In that instance, the additional summer duties would not preclude the application of the equal pay standard or justify the higher wage rate for men for the period when the work was equal.

§1620.25   Equalization of rates.

Under the express terms of the EPA, when a prohibited sex-based wage differential has been proved, an employer can come into compliance only by raising the wage rate of the lower paid sex. The rate-reduction provision of the EPA prohibits an employer from attempting to cure a violation by hiring or transferring employees to perform the previously lower-paid job at the lower rate. Similarly, the departure of the higher paid sex from positions where a violation occurred, leaving only members of the lower paid sex being paid equally among themselves, does not cure the EPA violations.

§1620.26   Red circle rates.

(a) The term “red circle” rate is used to describe certain unusual, higher than normal, wage rates which are maintained for reasons unrelated to sex. An example of bona fide use of a “red circle” rate might arise in a situation where a company wishes to transfer a long-service employee, who can no longer perform his or her regular job because of ill health, to different work which is now being performed by opposite gender-employees. Under the “red circle” principle the employer may continue to pay the employee his or her present salary, which is greater than that paid to the opposite gender employees, for the work both will be doing. Under such circumstances, maintaining an employee's established wage rate, despite a reassignment to a less demanding job, is a valid reason for the differential even though other employees performing the less demanding work would be paid at a lower rate, since the differential is based on a factor other than sex. However, where wage rate differentials have been or are being paid on the basis of sex to employees performing equal work, rates of the higher paid employees may not be “red circled” in order to comply with the EPA. To allow this would only continue the inequities which the EPA was intended to cure.

(b) For a variety of reasons an employer may require an employee, for a short period, to perform the work of a job classification other than the employee's regular classification. If the employee's rate for his or her regular job is higher than the rate usually paid for the work to which the employee is temporarily reassigned, the employer may continue to pay the higher rate under the “red circle” principle. For instance, an employer who must reduce help in a skilled job may transfer employees to less demanding work without reducing their pay, in order to have them available when they are again needed for their former jobs. Although employees traditionally engaged in performing the less demanding work would be paid at a lower rate than those employees transferred from the more skilled jobs, the resultant wage differential would not constitute a violation of the equal pay provisions since the differential is based on factors other than sex. This would be true during the period of time for which the “red circle” rate is bona fide. Temporary reassignments may also involve the opposite relationship of wage rates. Thus, an employee may be required, during the period of temporary reassignment, to perform work for which employees of the opposite sex are paid a higher wage rate than that paid for the duties of the employee's regular job classification. In such a situation, the employer may continue to pay the reassigned employee at the lower rate, if the rate is not based on quality or quantity of production , and if the reassignment is in fact a temporary one. If, however, a piece rate is paid employees of the opposite sex who perform the work to which the employee in question is reassigned, failure to pay the reassigned employee the same piece rate paid such other employees would raise questions of discrimination based on sex. Also, failure to pay the higher rate to a reassigned employee after it becomes known that the reassignment will not be of a temporary nature would raise a question whether sex rather than the temporary nature of the assignment is the real basis for the wage differential. Generally, failure to pay the higher rate to an employee reassigned for a period longer than one month will raise questions as to whether the reassignment was in fact intended to be temporary.

§1620.27   Relationship to the Equal Pay Act of title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

(a) In situations where the jurisdictional prerequisites of both the EPA and title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 200e et seq., are satisfied, any violation of the Equal Pay Act is also a violation of title VII. However, title VII covers types of wage discrimination not actionable under the EPA. Therefore, an act or practice of an employer or labor organization that is not a violation of the EPA may nevertheless be a violation of title VII.

(b) Recovery for the same period of time may be had under both the EPA and title VII so long as the same individual does not receive duplicative relief for the same wrong. Relief is computed to give each individual the highest benefit which entitlement under either statute would provide. (e.g., liquidated damages may be available under the EPA but not under title VII.) Relief for the same individual may be computed under one statute for one or more periods of the violation and under the other statute for other periods of the violation.

(c) The right to equal pay under the Equal Pay Act has no relationship to whether the employee is in the lower paying job as a result of discrimination in violation of title VII. Under the EPA a prima facie violation is established upon a showing that an employer pays different wages to employees of opposite sexes for equal work on jobs requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions. Thus, the availability of a remedy under title VII which would entitle the lower paid employee to be hired into, or to transfer to, the higher paid job does not defeat the right of each person employed on the lower paid job to the same wages as are paid to a member of the opposite sex who receives higher pay for equal work.

§1620.28   Relationship to other equal pay laws.

The provisions of various State or local laws may differ from the equal pay provisions set forth in the FLSA. No provisions of the EPA will excuse noncompliance with any State or other law establishing fewer defenses or more liberal work criteria than those of the EPA. On the other hand, compliance with other applicable legislation will not excuse violations of the EPA.

§1620.29   Relationship to other labor laws.

If a higher minimum wage than that required under the FLSA is applicable to a particular sex pursuant to State law, and the employer pays the higher State minimum wage to male or female employees, it must also pay the higher rate to employees of the opposite sex for equal work in order to comply with the EPA. Similarly, if overtime premiums are paid to members of one sex because of a legal requirement, such premiums must also be paid to employees of the other sex.

§1620.30   Investigations and compliance assistance.

(a) As provided in sections 9, 11, 16, and 17 of the FLSA, the Commission and its authorized representatives under the Act may (1) investigate and gather data; (2) enter and inspect establishments and records, and make transcriptions thereof, and interview individuals; (3) advise employers regarding any changes necessary or desirable to comply with the Act; (4) subpoena witnesses and order production of documents and other evidence; (5) supervise the payment of amounts owing pursuant to section 16(c) of the FLSA; (6) initiate and conduct litigation.

(b) The General Counsel, District Directors, Washington Field Office Director, and the Program Director, Office of Program Operations, or the designees of any of them are hereby delegated authority to exercise the powers enumerated in paragraphs (a) (1), (2), (3), and (5) of this section and to serve subpoenas. The General Counsel is delegated authority to seek preliminary relief under the Act. The General Counsel is hereby delegated authority to initiate other litigation at the direction of the Commission and to conduct such litigation.

(c) The identity or identifying details of persons giving information in confidence as to violations of the Act shall not be disclosed unless necessary in a court proceeding.

[46 FR 4888, Jan. 19, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 46276, Oct. 18, 1982; 50 FR 30700, July 29, 1985. Redesignated at 51 FR 29819, Aug. 20, 1986, and amended at 54 FR 32063, Aug. 4, 1989]

§1620.31   Issuance of subpoenas.

(a) With respect to the enforcement of the Equal Pay Act, any member of the Commission shall have the authority to sign a subpoena requiring:

(1) The attendance and testimony of witnesses;

(2) The production of evidence including, but not limited to, books, records, correspondence, or documents, in the possession or under the control of the person subpoenaed; and

(3) Access to evidence for the purposes of examination and the right to copy.

(b) There is no right of appeal to the Commission from the issuance of such a subpoena.

(c) Upon the failure of any person to comply with a subpoena issued under this section, the Commission may utilize the provisions of sections 49 and 50 of title 15 of the United States Code to compel enforcement of the subpoena.

[46 FR 4888, Jan. 19, 1981. Redesignated at 51 FR 29819, Aug. 20, 1986]

§1620.32   Recordkeeping requirements.

(a) Employers having employees subject to the Act are required to keep records in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor regulations found at 29 CFR part 516 (Records To Be Kept by Employers Under the FLSA). The regulations of that part are adopted herein by reference.

(b) Every employer subject to the equal pay provisions of the Act shall maintain and preserve all records required by the applicable sections of 29 CFR part 516 and in addition, shall preserve any records which he makes in the regular course of his business operation which relate to the payment of wages, wage rates, job evaluations, job descriptions, merit systems, seniority systems, collective bargaining agreements, description of practices or other matters which describe or explain the basis for payment of any wage differential to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment, and which may be pertinent to a determination whether such differential is based on a factor other than sex.

(c) Each employer shall preserve for at least two years the records he makes of the kind described in §1620.32(b) which explain the basis for payment of any wage differential to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 3046-0019)

(Pub. L. 96-511, 94 Stat. 2812 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.))

[46 FR 4888, Jan. 19, 1981, as amended at 46 FR 63268, Dec. 31, 1981. Redesignated at 51 FR 29819, Aug. 20, 1986]

§1620.33   Recovery of wages due; injunctions; penalties for willful violations.

(a) Wages withheld in violation of the Act have the status of unpaid minimum wages or unpaid overtime compensation under the FLSA. This is true both of the additional wages required by the Act to be paid to an employee to meet the equal pay standard, and of any wages that the employer should have paid an employee whose wages he reduced in violation of the Act in an attempt to equalize his or her pay with that of an employee of the opposite sex performing equal work, on jobs subject to the Act.

(b) The following methods are provided under sections 16 and 17 of the FLSA for recovery of unpaid wages: The Commission may supervise payment of the back wages and may bring suit for back pay and an equal amount as liquidated damages. The employee may sue for back pay and an additional sum, up to the amount of back pay, as liquidated damages, plus attorney's fees and court costs. The employee may not bring suit if he or she has been paid back wages in full under supervision of the Commission, or if the Commission has filed suit under the Act to collect the wages due the employee. The Commission may also obtain a court injunction to restrain any person from violating the law, including the unlawful withholding by an employer of proper compensation. A 2-year statute of limitations applies to the recovery of unpaid wages, except that an action on a cause of action arising out of a willful violation may be commenced within 3 years after the cause of action accrued.

(c) Willful violations of the Act may be prosecuted criminally and the violator fined up to $10,000. A second conviction for such a violation may result in imprisonment.

(d) Violation of any provision of the Act by any person, including any labor organization or agent thereof, is unlawful, as provided in section 15(a) of the FLSA. Accordingly, any labor organization, or agent thereof, who violates any provision of the Act is subject to injunction proceedings in accordance with the applicable provisions of section 17 of the FLSA. Any such labor organization, or agent thereof, who willfully violates the provisions of section 15 is liable to the penalties set forth in section 16(a) of the FLSA.

[46 FR 4888, Jan. 19, 1981. Redesignated at 51 FR 29819, Aug. 20, 1986]

§1620.34   Rules to be liberally construed.

(a) These rules and regulations shall be liberally construed to effectuate the purpose and provisions of this Act and any other Act administered by the Commission.

(b) Any person claiming to be aggrieved or the agent for such person may advise the Commission of the statute or statutes under which he or she wishes the Commission to commence its inquiry.

(c) Whenever the Commission is investigating a charge or allegation relating to a possible violation of one of the statutes which it administers and finds a violation of one or more of the other statutes which it administers, the Commission may seek to remedy such violation in accordance with the procedures of all relevant statutes.

[46 FR 4888, Jan. 19, 1981. Redesignated at 51 FR 29819, Aug. 20, 1986]



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