Can I sue my employer for paying me a lower wage than other employees doing similar or less work?

UPDATED: Mar 15, 2012

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Can I sue my employer for paying me a lower wage than other employees doing similar or less work?

I am in a leadership role in which employees I’m expected to lead are paid a higher wage.

Asked on March 15, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, employers are free to pay any employee any wage they like--to even pay leaders or supervisors less than those  they lead or manage. The only exceptions are:

1) If there is an employment contract (including union agreement) setting pay, its terms must be followed.

2) It is illegal to pay someone less due to his or her race, religion, sex, age over 40, or disability (under federal law; some states also protect a few other categories, chiefly national origin, family status, or sexual orientation).

But apart from 1) or 2), your employer would seem to be able to do this.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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