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  • By: Moss Bollinger
  • Published: December 15, 2022
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California employees who need clarification on the Equal Pay Act may worry that it could affect their paychecks. To avoid unnecessary stress, get to know some of the basics.

What Is California’s Equal Pay Act?

California’s Equal Pay Act is part of the California Labor Code (Section 1197.5 and Labor Code Section 432.3). While the California Equal Pay Act is not new, numerous changes have occurred since its creation. The California Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying employees less than other employees of the opposite sex to complete equal work and has done so for decades. But when Governor Brown signed the California Fair Pay Act in 2015, he strengthened the Equal Pay Act and indicated that California was committed to reaching real gender pay equity.

Changes to the Equal Pay Act Throughout the Years:

Since its inception, there have been many changes to the original Equal Pay Act, but the most significant were:

  1. Clarifying the Definition: Requiring employers to provide equal pay for employees who perform “substantially similar work” (related to skill, effort, and responsibility in their position).
  2. Eliminating Location Loopholes: Eliminating the requirement that two employees being compared for equal pay purposes work at the same establishment.
  3. Responding to Common Employer Justifications: Making it more difficult for California employers to justify any pay inequalities through a “bona fide factor other than sex” argument.
  4. Addressing the Total Pay Discrepancy: Making sure that legitimate factors employers use to justify pay inequities are reasonably applied to the situation and account for the total amount of any pay difference.
  5. Prohibiting Retaliation: Explicitly stating that retaliation against workers seeking pay equality through legal means is illegal.
  6. Removing the Gag: Making it illegal for employers to prohibit their employees from asking about or discussing their pay rates and co-workers’ pay rates.
  7. Extending Record Requirements: The length of time employers must maintain wage and other employment-related records was extended to three years.
  8. Adding Protected Categories: Race and ethnicity became protected categories alongside gender.
  9. Addressing Prior Salary Justifications: Employers are prohibited from using prior salary to justify gender, age, race, or ethnicity-based pay discrepancies.
  10. Including Public Employers: The reach of the labor code was extended to apply to public employers.
  11. Protecting Applicant Pay History Records: Employers are prohibited from seeking a job applicant’s salary history, and employers are required to supply pay scales at the request of job applicants.

What Does The California Equal Pay Act Mean For You?

The amended California Equal Pay Act means your California employers are prohibited from paying you a pay rate less than an employee of the opposite sex, of a different race, of another ethnicity, or age who performs substantially similar work. Similar work, as applicable to California Labor Law, is a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and for work to be considered “substantially similar,” the work must be performed under similar conditions. Under California’s Equal Pay Act, an employee must prove that they are being paid less than another employee of another race, a different sex, or a different ethnicity who is completing substantially similar work. Once a California employee shows this, the employer must prove that they have a legitimate, legal reason for the pay difference.

What If The Other Employee Who Earns More Than You Has A Different Job Title?

You can still file a claim if the other employee who earns a higher pay rate than you has a different job title. Under California’s Equal Pay Rate, the law compares substantially similar jobs, even if the job titles differ.

If you need help filing a California equal pay lawsuit or have questions about how California’s Equal Pay Act affects you, contact Moss Bollinger, Sherman Oaks, California employment law attorney. He’s dedicated to protecting and asserting the rights of his clients. Call (310) 982-2291 today for a free consultation, or contact us online.

Moss Bollinger LLP - Sherman Oaks, CA

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