Equal Pay Violations
California’s Equal Pay Act
California’s Equal Pay Act prohibits wage discrimination. This includes paying employees at a lower wage rate than employees of a different gender, race or ethnicity. This applies to jobs performed under similar working conditions that require substantially similar work, when considering skill, effort, and responsibility.
Exceptions to California’s Equal Pay Act
Although employers are prohibited from engaging in wage discrimination, California’s equal pay laws permit a wage differential between employees of another, gender, race or ethnicity based on the following legitimate business reasons:
- A seniority system.
- A merit system.
- A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.
- A bona fide factor other than sex, race or ethnicity. This may include education, training, or experience relevant to the job position and the needs of the business.
To establish an exception to the equal pay requirements, however, an employer must affirmatively demonstrate that a wage differential is based upon a legitimate reason entirely unrelated to sex, race or ethnicity. An employer must demonstrate that the factors relied upon were applied reasonably and account for the entire wage differential.
To promote wage equality, the law now permits employees to disclose their wages to others. Employers can no longer prohibit employees from disclosing their own wages, discussing the wages of others, inquiring about other employee’s wages, or aiding or encouraging other employees to exercise their rights to equal pay. Additionally, due to the history of women receiving lesser pay than men for the same jobs, an employee’s prior salary history can not be used as justification for a wage disparity.
Penalties for Violation of the Law
The equal pay laws provide harsh penalties for wage discrimination. Employers are prohibited from retaliating in any way against an employee for enforcing his or her equal pay rights. An employee who suffered wage discrimination in violation of the equal pay laws may recover various forms of damages. These include twice the wages lost due to the employer’s discrimination, plus interest and attorney’s fees. An employee may also be entitled to job reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and benefits.
What Does The California Equal Pay Act Actually State?
The California Equal Pay Act originally only prohibited an employer from paying employees less than employees of the opposite sex for equal work. Over the last several years, the law has been amended and expanded, and it now prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees’ wage rates that are less than what it pays to other employees of the opposite sex, or of another race, or ethnicity for substantially similar work. If two employees are doing very similar work and have similar qualifications, you cannot pay them differently if they are of a different race, gender or ethnicity. They have to be paid the same. Otherwise, an Equal Pay Act violation claim occurs. Read more
If you are the victim of wage discrimination in violation of the Equal Pay Act, contact Fair Employment Lawyers for a consultation. Our attorneys have the experience to successfully handle your wage discrimination claim.
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