The Equal Pay Act (EPA) provides that men and women are entitled to equal pay for equal work. Simple enough. But what happens if a man negotiates for himself a higher salary? Is that just business as usual, or do we have an EPA problem? According to a recent Fifth Circuit case, it’s a problem. In Thibodeaux-Woody v. Houston Community College, a woman and a man applied for similar positions at the same time. Both got the job and were offered the same salary. Both indicated they would like to negotiate for a higher salary. The hiring manager told the woman there was no room for negotiation. But he let the man negotiate, and he ended up making over $10,000 more as a starting salary. Lo and behold the woman found out and thus a lawsuit was born.
According to the Fifth Circuit, the disparity in the way the two negotiation requests were handled was enough to take the case to a jury (and not just on an EPA claim; on a Title VII claim too).
(Stereo)typically, men are seen as better negotiators than women. Employers should not fall prey to this idea, as they will run the risk of an EPA claim.