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Pay Equity Matters: Mind the Gap

Pay equity concerns in Hollywood are not limited to famous actresses (such as Michelle Williams) or comediennes (such as Mo’Nique). As reported this week by the Hollywood Reporter, the co-writer of smash hit “Crazy Rich Asians” rejected the chance to write two sequels to the movie after learning that she was slated to be paid about one-eighth of what her male co-writer would earn. While the dispute arose late last year and was just recently revealed, it aptly demonstrates that gender pay disparities still exist even in prominent positions. This story should be another reminder for your company to ensure your act is cleaned up before you pay the price.

Tinseltown stars have always had a special place in our hearts. Their portrayals of characters brought to life from our favorite books or screenplays so often teach us lessons about ourselves, life, and those around us. What we hadn’t bargained for, however, is how much they seem to be showing us about employment law lately. The newest lesson—pay equity. 

Oh, Hollywood. Reports emanating from the center of the U.S. film industry have put a spotlight (see what I did there?) on sexual harassment for several months. But the recent revelations regarding the pay disparities between Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams demonstrate that harassment is not the only thing employers should be re-evaluating in light of these blockbuster (did it again!) revelations. 

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals just forced a public employer back into court to defend itself against a pay equity claim after a lower court had dismissed the lawsuit and cleared the employer from wrongdoing. In resurrecting the claim on behalf of three female employees, the appeals court created a more rigid standard of proof that will make it harder for employers to win pay equity claims and should incentivize businesses to examine their own compensation practices.

Tags: EEOC

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