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Job analysis and job classification for addressing pay inequality in organizations: Adjusting our methods within a shifting legal landscape

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 March 2022

Nicole Strah
Purdue University
Deborah E. Rupp*
George Mason University
Scott B. Morris
Illinois Institute of Technology
*Corresponding author. Email:


Pay inequality remains a pervasive problem within the workforce. However, it can be challenging for even well-meaning and responsible organizations to effectively assess which jobs should be considered equivalent and paid the same based on both legal criteria (which have shifted over time and differ across specific statutes and jurisdictions) and scientific evidence (which continues to amass). This paper intends to initiate a solution-focused discussion on how organizations can proactively categorize jobs so that pay decisions that are made about men and women are both legally defensible and fair. We propose that integrating the job analysis/job classification literature and the pay discrimination literature (e.g., legal opinions given by courts) will inform this discussion. We first review federal and state legislation and court opinions that have set legal standards for identifying pay discrimination. We then review the relevance of job analysis/job classification for systematically defining and categorizing jobs, highlighting the legal issues that should be but (to the best of our knowledge) have not been considered when undertaking such processes. Our intention is for this article to spark dialogue among researchers and practitioners regarding the identification of methods with which organizations can strive to meet equal pay standards and goals, applying both legal and scientific perspectives.

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© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology

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We emphasize that nothing presented in this paper should be interpreted as legal advice and recommend organizations work closely with legal counsel in all their compensation efforts.



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