Minnesota Equal Pay/Comparable Worth: What you need to know

The Minnesota Equal Pay Law prohibits wage discrimination based on gender. Under the Law, male and female employees must receive equal pay for work that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and is performed under similar working conditions (MN Stat. Sec. 181.66 et seq.).
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Employers are also prohibited from:
• Retaliating against employees for filing equal pay complaints or participating in the investigation or hearing of claims under the Equal Pay Law
• Reducing any employee's wages in order to comply with the Law
The Equal Pay Law covers all private employers, regardless of size, but does not cover state or municipal entities that have a merit-based payment system in place.
Wage differentials are permissible if they are based on:
• A seniority or merit system;
• A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
• Any factor other than sex.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an employer cannot defend a wage disparity between opposite-sex employees merely by showing that the male employee negotiated a higher salary than the female employee (Drum v. Leeson Elec. Corp., 565 F.3d 1071 (8th Cir. 2009)). The employer in this case promoted a female employee and increased her salary but then hired a man to fill the position she vacated and paid him over $15,000 more than she was making in her new position. The woman brought a pay discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act. The employer argued that the male employee had negotiated a higher salary that was consistent with the market rate. However, the court noted that the employer had to justify the female employee's below-market ...

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