California’s Equal Pay Act
California’s Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from engaging in wage discrimination by paying employees less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex. This applies when the employees’ jobs require substantially similar work, when considering their skill, effort, and responsibility, and are performed under similar working conditions. Cal. Lab. Code § 1197.5.
Although employers are prohibiting from engaging in wage discrimination, California’s equal pay laws do not prevent employers from compensating their employees of the opposite sex differently for legitimate business reasons, such as seniority, merit, quantity or quality of production, or based on any bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience. 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. An employer must also demonstrate that factors relied upon were applied reasonably and account for the entire wage differential.
California’s equal pay laws also prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating in any way against an employee for enforcing his or her rights to equal pay. The law also provides that employers cannot 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.
The equal pay law provides harsh penalties for wage discrimination. 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. An employee may also be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits if they were subjected to retaliation under the equal pay laws.
If you are the victim of wage discrimination in violation of the Equal Pay Act, contact Kaplan Weiss LLP for a free consultation. Our attorneys have the experience to successfully handle your wage discrimination claim.