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What makes wage differences based on sex a human rights claim?

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2021 | Employment Law |

In British Columbia, men and women who do the same work are entitled to the same remuneration. Unfortunately, even in this day and age, wage discrimination based on sex or gender continues in some workplaces. In these cases, workers may be entitled to seek relief by filing a human rights complaint.

However, specific criteria are necessary to establish that an employee can proceed with a claim of sex or gender-related wage discrimination in a workplace. 

Criteria for a valid wage discrimination claim

Not any complaint about unequal pay will be sufficient for the Tribunal to proceed with a wage discrimination claim. A complaint about wage discrimination must set out the following facts:

  • The complainant must work for the same employer as another employee. 
  • The complainant’s pay rate must be lower than the other employee’s pay rate. 
  • Both the complainant and the other employee must do the same work, or their tasks must be very similar. 
  • The other employee must be a different sex or gender.

For instance, consider the following two examples: 

  1. A male and female worker are both employed as drywallers by the same employer. They have the same duties, but his pay rate is $20 per hour while she only earns $15 per hour.
  2. A warehousing company employs two groups of cleaners. A group of men cleans the warehouse, and the office cleaners are mostly women. The work of the two groups is similar. However, the cleaning crew of men is paid more than the women office cleaners. 

Prima facie case of wage discrimination

If the above criteria exist, then based on the law of British Columbia, an employee may have what is known as a prima facie case of discrimination arising from the wage discrimination. If an employee provides enough information and evidence to establish a prima facie case, then the burden would be on the employer to defend the claim, such as by proving that there was a legitimate justification for the wage difference.

Employees who believe they have the basis for a claim of wage discrimination should contact a lawyer to discuss their options and next steps.




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