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Accurate Job Descriptions: More Important Than Ever!

Published:  September 14, 2018

With the recent passage of the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, the importance of accurate job descriptions is again driven home. As a refresher, the Equal Pay Act requires equal pay for “comparable work.” Comparable work is defined as work that requires “substantially similar” skill, effort and responsibility while performed under similar working conditions. The Equal Pay Act makes it clear that employers cannot simply rely upon the title of a position to justify a pay differential.

An accurate job description will be an important part of an employer’s defense in the event a claim is made under the Equal Pay Act. Employers will therefore want to make sure they review the current job descriptions for each position to make sure that the description is an accurate reflection of the skills, effort and responsibility that the individual in the position actually utilizes on a daily basis. Being able to use documentation to define a clear differential in the skills required for several particular positions can aid in proving that employees engaged in several positions are not performing “comparable work” and therefore justify any differences in pay among several positions.

Ensuring that job descriptions are accurate is an ounce of prevention that can go a long way towards saving an employer from the potential damages under the Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pact Act provides for damage awards in the form of actual damages, liquidated damages and attorney’s fees in the event an employee prevails. Actual damages are the difference in pay between what the employee was earning and what other employees are making for comparable work. In addition to actual damages, liquidated damages would also be awarded. Liquidated damages are a legal remedy for a fixed sum in the event of a violation. In the case of the Equal Pay Act, the Legislature has set liquidated damages as the amount of actual damages multiplied times two. An employer would also be responsible for the employee’s attorney’s fees and statutory interest at the rate of twelve (12) percent. Given the length of time that typical litigation requires, it is possible that awards to an employee under the Equal Pay Act could exceed $100,000.00.

Investing the time and effort to make sure that your job descriptions are accurate can therefore be a useful tool in defending against an Equal Pay Act claim.

 

If you would like more information on the Equal Pay Act, or have any questions on any aspect of labor and employment law, please contact the attorneys at Royal, P.C.

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