Federal Equal Pay Act and California Fair Pay Act Attorneys in Orange County
Although the federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) has been around for decades, California’s Fair Pay Act went into effect in January 1, 2016. The EPA was enacted in 1963 to forbid sex-based discrimination between men and women in the same establishment who perform jobs that require “equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.” 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act ensures that employees can file a complaint for unfair pay within 180 days of each discriminatory paycheck.
California’s Fair Pay Act (“FPA”) extended more rights to employees than the Equal Pay Act. It amended Section 1197.5 of California’s Labor Code relating to private employers. The new law empowers employees to not only to get equal pay for equal work, but to demand that employers pay the same pay rates to each gender for “substantially similar work” taking into consideration a combination of skills, effort, responsibility under similar working conditions. Further, the new law enables employees to file unequal pay claims when their wage rates in any of the employer’s facilities and in any job category is not equal to their peers.
Under the FPA, employers must justify pay differentials and limits the factors that employers can use to explain the differential. Even though Title VII required a evidence of discriminatory intent or a specific practice or policy with a discriminatory impact, the FPA does not require such showing. Further, recent legislation in also suggests that pay may not be limited to gender for long and extends FPA’s protections to different races and ethnicities.
Employees may now disclose their wages and discuss them with other employees. Similar to other employment laws, these laws forbid employers from retaliating against those employees who inquire about their pay rate in comparison to their colleagues. Once the employee files a claim, the burden is on the employers to show that the different pay rate is based on factors other than gender.
Over the last half century, our legal system has made leaps in bringing gender equality at work. However, there are still many examples of earning gaps between genders. This type of wage disparity spans professions and industries. In fact, studies show that women who work on a full time basis in the United States were paid 79% of their male counterparts. Our modern economy has increasingly placed women in the role of the main wage earner or the co-wage earner. Thus, unlawful pay disparities may no longer be permitted and our courts will continue to stem them out.
Closing the Wage Gap
Pay inequality or disparity is now subject to increased oversight and severe consequences. In California, employers are scrambling to conduct internal audits to ensure such wage differentials do not exist. The most common places where women are paid less than their male counterparts is in starting salaries since their wage history may have been affected by years of impartial wage treatment. Even more so these pay gaps are most prevalent with women of color, mothers who must take time off to care for their children and older women who have suffered most. Often, women do not negotiate their salaries as much as their male colleagues. The combination of these and other factors has led to a wage gap which the Equal/Fair Pay Act is meant to address.
If you have been adversely affected or believe that your wages are unequal to those of the opposite gender, contact Orange County’s employment discrimination lawyers focused on the representation of executives and employees in the workplace. To obtain a free evaluation of your case and discuss what we can do for you, speak to our attorneys today by calling 877-789-9707 or completing the online form on this page.