EEEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.
Equal Pay/ Statute of Limitations
September 29, 2014
This is in response to your letter to the First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama. Your kind regards to Mrs. Obama and her family are appreciated. The White House forwarded your letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on September 10, 2014, because the EEOC enforces federal laws requiring equal pay for women and men.
Your letter states that you are age 82 and retired. You are requesting an investigation into whether your former employer paid a male supervisor more than you and another female supervisor, and if any compensation is owed to you. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Title VII) prohibits employment discrimination -- including pay discrimination -- based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. With unequal pay, there is a violation each time the employer provides a discriminatory pay check. A person in California has 300 days to file a charge of discrimination after the violation of Title VII. Based on your letter, the key fact will be whether 300 days have passed since your last paycheck from this employer. If more than 300 days have passed, then regretfully it is too late to investigate under Title VII.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. Under the EPA, a person has two years (or three years in cases of willful violations) to go directly to court or to the EEOC. Again, the question will be whether your last paycheck came within two or three years. If it came more than two or three years ago, then again, regretfully, too much time has passed.
We hope that this information is helpful to you. Please note that this letter does not constitute an official opinion or interpretation by the EEOC within the meaning of § 713(b) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-12(b).
Carol R. Miaskoff
Assistant Legal Counsel
This page was last modified on December 8, 2014.
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