In the underlying action, former employee King charged her former employer Acosta with two kinds of sex discrimination: that Acosta maintained a hostile work environment in which conditions for women were inferior to those for men, and that Acosta paid women less than men for the same work.
The Seventh Circuit opined out that an employee's only burden under the Equal Pay Act is to show a difference in pay for "equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions" (§206(d)(1)). However, the district court erred by finding that the employer need only articulate that education and prior experience accounted for any pay differences between plaintiff and her male comparatives. Instead, the employer must meet the burdens of "both production and persuasion" that the difference is the result of a "factor other than sex." Judge Easterbrook pointed out that "education and experience . . . [may] explain some or even all of the difference in the starting salaries . . . . There is no reason why they should explain increases in pay while a person is employed by Acosta. Changes in salary at most firms depend on how well a person performs at work."