Posts Tagged 'Blog'

Changes to California Equal Pay Act

California recently passed Senate Bill No. 358, which amends Labor Code Section 1197.5 known as the California Equal Pay Act, to make it easier for an employee to successfully pursue a wage discrimination claim.

According to the California legislature, in 2014 the gender wage gap in California was at 16 cents on the dollar. That means a woman working full-time earned an average of 84 cents to every dollar a man earned. The wage gap extended across almost all occupations and was far worse for minority women. For example, Latina women in California made only 44 cents for every dollar a white male made, which was the biggest gap for Latina women in the U.S. Women working as full-time employees in California lose approximately $33,650,294,544 each year as a result of this wage disparity. The wage gap also contributes to higher statewide poverty rate among women, particularly among minority women and single women with children.

Although California law has prohibited gender-based wage discrimination since 1949, the California Equal Pay Act is rarely used to enforce wage disparity claims due to the difficult in establishing a successful claim. The amendment to the Equal Pay Act is designed to eliminate the gender wage gap in California by making it easier for an employee to establish a successful claim of gender-based wage discrimination.

Changes to the California Equal Pay Act

Under prior law, an employer was prohibited from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex “in the same establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.”

To ease the requirements for maintaining a successful suit under the Equal Pay Act, the new law prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than those paid to employees of the opposite sex for “substantially similar work,” when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility. There is no longer a requirement that the jobs consist of equal work performed in the same establishment.

In addition, the new law now places the burden of proving an exception to the equal pay requirements squarely on the employer. To establish an exception, an employer must affirmatively demonstrate that a wage differential is based upon one or more specified factors. These factors include a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience. An employer is also required to demonstrate that factors relied upon were applied reasonably and account for the entire wage differential. In other words, the employer must prove that any wage disparity is entirely unrelated to the employee’s gender.

Finally, the new law prohibits an employer from terminating, or in any manner discriminating or retaliating against, any employee for enforcing his or her rights to equal pay. To facilitate enforcement of the new law, an employer cannot prohibit an employee from disclosing the employee’s own wages, discussing the wages of others, inquiring about another employee’s wages, or aiding or encouraging any other employee to exercise his or her rights to equal pay.

An employee who was the victim of wage discrimination in violation of the equal pay laws is entitled to recover twice the wages he or she lost due to the employer’s discrimination, plus interest and attorney’s fees.

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Federal Court Vacates Tom Brady’s Four-Game Suspension by NFL

In a decision and order published this morning, Federal Court Judge, Richard M. Berman, ruled in favor of Tom Brady and against the NFL, vacating Tom Brady’s four-game suspension imposed by the NFL in connection with his role in the alleged use of under-inflated footballs by the New England Patriots.

In reaching his decision, Judge Berman found that Tom Brady had inadequate notice of the possible discipline for the alleged offense, or that a four-game suspension could be imposed. Moreover, Judge Berman found that NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, improperly denied Tom Brady equal access to investigative files and the opportunity to examine certain witnesses.

Judge Berman noted:

“It is the ‘law of the shop’ to provide professional football players with (advance) notice of prohibited conduct and of potential discipline. Any disciplinary program requires that individuals subject to that program understand, with reasonable certainty, what results will occur if they breach established rules. Because there was no notice of a four-game suspension in the circumstances presented here, Commissioner Goodell may be said to have dispensed his own brand of industrial justice. When the arbitrator’s words manifest an infidelity to this obligation, courts have no choice but to refuse enforcement of the award.” (Decision and Order, pg. 25, internal citations and quotations omitted.)

Based on his review of the record and applicable legal authorities, Judge Berman overturned Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, effective immediately.

Complete Decision and Order by Judge Richard M. Berman

 

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Employment Law Updates

The Healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act 2014

The Healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act of 2014 went into effect on July 1, 2015. Under the new law, California employers are now required to provide paid sick days to certain employees.  Paid sick time accrues at a minimum rate of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employees are entitled to use accrued sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment. Accrued paid sick days will carry over to the following year of employment.

No Retaliation for Accommodation Request

On July 16, 2015, California enacted Assembly Bill No. 987, making it unlawful for an employer to retaliate or otherwise discriminate against an employee for “requesting” accommodation for a physical or mental disability or religious belief or observance, regardless of whether the accommodation was granted. The new law clarifies that a request for reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability constitutes protected activity under Government Code Section 12940 of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. An employee may not be subject to relation for making such a request.

California Cheerleaders are Employees

On July 15, 2015, California passed a new law adding section 2754 to the California Labor Code. Under the new law, cheerleaders working for California professional sports teams must now be classified as employees, and are  protected by existing State and Federal employment laws, including minimum wage and overtime laws and anti-discrimination and harassment statutes.

 

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