Texas Equal Pay Lawyer
It’s quite common for employers to pay their workers unfairly or inadequately – and many employees don’t even know it’s happening. Discussing money is taboo, so there is often too little pay transparency for employees to realize that they’re receiving unequal pay for equal work. In other cases, workers don’t receive the guaranteed bonuses or overtime pay they’re owed, not realizing that this is illegal.
In situations like these, an employee may be able to take action, including working with a Texas equal pay lawyer to file a lawsuit against their employer seeking the compensation they deserve.
What is inadequate compensation or unequal pay?
It may seem self-explanatory, but inadequate compensation is when your employer doesn’t pay you as much as they are legally required to pay. Unequal pay is often the result of discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race, age, disability status, or another protected characteristic, which is against the law.
Inadequate compensation can also take the form of unpaid bonuses that were guaranteed, unpaid commissions, stolen equity, tip pool violations, unpaid overtime or minimum wage, or breaches of contract. These breaches and violations may also be illegal, depending on the circumstances (for example, the language in an incentive agreement or employment agreement).
What are some examples of inadequate compensation?
Here are some of the most common types of inadequate compensation:
- Breach of contract
- Severance agreement violation
- Unequal pay due to age, disability, gender, pregnancy status, race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender status, or veteran status
- Unpaid commissions
- Unpaid minimum wage
- Unpaid overtime
- Unpaid tips or tip pool violations
Please note, though, that this list does not include every type of unfair compensation. The best way to determine if you’re being inadequately paid is to speak with a Texas equal pay lawyer.
I’m a woman with the same job title and responsibilities as a male coworker, but he makes more money. Is that legal?
It may not be. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (an amendment to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act) states that men and women must receive substantially equal – though not necessarily identical – pay for the same work. In these scenarios, job titles are less important than the work each employee is tasked with. In other words, even if your titles aren’t the same, if you’re performing the same work but receiving less pay, you could still potentially take legal action to recover equal wages.
If you have the same responsibilities as a male colleague, but he earns substantially more pay, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for this unfair disparity.
My boss said I'd receive a pay bonus, but I never got it. Is that legal?
If your employer guaranteed a pay bonus in writing, and never gave it to you, that would likely qualify as a breach of contract, which is illegal. However, if they simply implied or suggested that you would be receiving a bonus, or if the bonus is purely discretionary, they most likely haven’t broken any laws by failing to deliver that bonus. The best way to determine if an unpaid bonus warrants legal action is to speak with an employment and civil rights attorney.
How do I know if my compensation is adequate or not?
Lack of pay transparency is a widespread problem that makes it harder to gauge if you’re being paid fairly or not. Many Americans are reluctant to discuss money because they may think it’s tacky or impolite. But the truth is that we need more people – and businesses – to be open about what they earn or pay. This will allow workers to identify pay disparities, which will ultimately lead to greater pay equity.
If you’re comfortable doing so, ask coworkers with the same responsibilities as you how much they make. If you didn’t receive a tip, overtime pay, a bonus, or equity (including NSOs, ISOs, RSUs and other stock) ask your colleagues if they received theirs. By communicating frankly, you can help each other determine if someone is being unfairly compensated due to their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or another protected trait.
What should I do if I'm not being paid as much as I should be?
If you think your employer hasn’t paid you as much as they should – whether it’s because of discrimination, unpaid tips or bonuses, or a breach of contract – you should contact an employment rights attorney for a free, confidential consultation. A Texas equal pay attorney can help you determine if you’re being fairly compensated. If you’re not, they may be able to file a lawsuit so you can recover the wages or bonuses you’re rightfully owed.
What kind of compensation can I expect from an inadequate compensation lawsuit?
The money you can recover from an unequal pay lawsuit will depend on the unique factors of your case (for example, how long you were paid unfairly), and which laws your employer violated. In most cases, these are the types of damages plaintiffs can recover:
- Economic damages: These include back pay covering all the compensation you should have received for your work;
- Compensatory damages: These damages cover the emotional harm and mental anguish suffered as a result of the unequal pay, as well as any related therapy or medical expenses;
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages are designed to punish the employer to discourage them from discriminating against employees and inadequately compensating them in the future;
- Interest: Pre- and post-suit interest; and
- Attorney’s fees and court costs: The reasonable amount incurred in bringing a lawsuit.
The most important things to know are your likelihood of success and how much you may be able to recover. An employee rights attorney can help you calculate the potential value of your case.
Can I get fired for filing an equal pay lawsuit or demanding adequate compensation from my employer while still employed?
It depends. We strongly suggest consulting with a qualified Texas employment lawyer as soon as you think you may need assistance with compensation issues. Though many states have protection for filing a wage claim, the Texas Workforce Commission unfortunately does not. Other statutes do provide attention, and an attorney can assist in ensuring your critical next steps are as protected as possible.
Though many workers are understandably nervous about filing a lawsuit against their employer, many state and federal laws protect employees from retaliatory firings or demotions provided they fall within certain specific statutory protections.
For example, if an employer were to fire an employee for accusing them of unequal or unfair pay on the basis of gender, or failure to pay overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the employer could then be held liable in a wrongful termination lawsuit – in addition to the original unequal pay lawsuit. This could prove even more costly and inconvenient for the employer, and strengthen your position as you try to recover your underpaid compensation.
How do I prove inadequate compensation or unequal pay?
Every employment case is different, so the evidence necessary to win a lawsuit will vary. That said, here are some examples of the type of evidence you might need to prove your case:
- Company policies that are discriminatory
- Copies of the contract(s) that the employer breached
- Emails, messages, or audio/video clips that suggest employer discrimination
- Paychecks/pay stubs that prove an unfair salary disparity
- Witness statements corroborating discrimination or tip pool violations
- Written guarantees of pay bonuses or commissions that were never paid
A Texas equal pay lawyer can help you gather the evidence required to build your case.
Why should I contact Kaplan Law Firm?
Kaplan Law Firm is an employment law and civil rights firm that’s been proudly serving Texans since 2015. Founded by Austin Kaplan in Austin, Texas, our firm has represented hundreds of clients in a wide range of employment and civil rights matters, including claims for discrimination, breach of contract, overtime violations, wage and hour violations, and whistleblower retaliation.
We’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients; received dozens of five-star reviews on Google and Avvo; and our attorneys have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Fast Company, and on CNN.
Reach out today for a free, confidential case review to see if we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
How Can We Help?
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— Sam, Unpaid Wages
I reached out to Austin in hopes he could offer guidance with a difficult employment situation which had me feeling helpless and depleted. In my initial meeting with Austin, he offered insight into employment law confirming my suspicions that my employer was not acting in compliance with legal expectations.
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— S.L., Severance Negotiation, Sexual Harassment, Retaliation
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— Richard, Unpaid Overtime (FLSA) / Retaliation