A few months ago, I wrote about the United State Women’s National Soccer Team (WNT) and their fight for equal pay as compared to the Men’s National Soccer Team (MNT). The WNT argued that even though they enjoyed much more success on the field than the MNT, they were still paid disproportionately lower than their male counterparts. In the midst of their fight for equal pay, however, the WNT faced a significant setback following a recent court decision issued by United States District Court for the Central District of California.

In his decision, issued on May 1, 2020, District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner concluded that the Defendant, United States Soccer Federation, had produced sufficient evidence that the WNT was actually paid more on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis than the MNT. In valuing the “total compensation” earned by the WNT, Judge Klausner concluded that WNT did not make more money than the MNT because they played more games, as argued by the WNT. Rather, Judge Klausner concluded that the WNT played more games and made more money than the MNT per game under their current collective bargaining agreement. As a result, the WNT’s claims brought under the Equal Pay Act were dismissed.

While the decision was a blow to the WNT’s claims for equal pay, it provides an important reminder to all Nevada employers of their obligations to ensure equal pay amongst their employees. In my previous article, I wrote about the implications of Title VII at it relates to pay equity. Title VII, however, is just one part of a series of state and federal legislation that prohibits discriminatory pay practices.

the equal pay act

The Equal Pay Act, and its state-specific Nevada counterpart NRS 608.017, require employers to pay male and female employees equally for equal work in the same establishment. Work is considered “substantially equal” if it requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions. Under both the federal and state laws, however, a difference in pay is allowed if it is based on: a  seniority system, a merit system, a compensation system under which wages are determined by the quality or quantity of production, or a wage differential based on factors other than sex.

While many employers are facing the uncertainty of running a business in the time of Coronavirus and navigating various other legal hurdles, it is important to remember that equal pay laws are still in effect and will be enforced. On June 4, 2020, the Nevada Association of Employers will be hosting a webinar (free to NAE members / $79 for non-members) to discuss ways to eliminate the wage gap between men and women, as well as white and minority employees.

Additionally, the Nevada Association of Employers has implemented a new pay equity assessment to ensure that employers are in compliance with both federal and state law governing pay equity. In the assessment, the employer is provided a detailed salary analysis of its workforce that identifies any statistical disparities in pay between both men and women, as well as white and minority employees. Once identified, the team at NAE will help employers determine whether the pay disparities are supported and legally compliant. Further, NAE will analyze the employer’s compensation structure and pay policies to ensure that they meet all legal requirements.

By ensuring compliance with equal pay laws, employers can avoid costly lawsuits while improving employee recruiting and retention. If you have any questions regarding pay equity compliance, please contact us at (775) 329-4241 or info@nevadaemployers.org.