Unlawful employment discrimination is still a bleak reality in this nation, and employers use many tactics to enforce their biases.
An employer may let you through the door but block you from certain positions because of your sex.
A boss might promote you alongside others from different racial backgrounds and gender expressions but pay you less than your contemporaries make.
Paying employees less than their peers because of a discriminatory reason is illegal, and the California Equal Pay Act holds employers accountable for this behavior.
If you have been the victim of discriminatory, unequal pay, our attorneys at Workplace Rights Law Group can advocate for your rights and recover the compensation and damages you deserve.
We strive daily to provide California employees with the same high-level representation employers and big companies receive.
How Prevalent Is Unequal Pay Today?
Unequal pay between the sexes has existed for decades. Unfortunately, the gender pay gap has widened in recent years.
In 2019, women’s weekly median earnings in California were only 89% of what Californian men earned that year.
In 2020, Californian women’s weekly earnings sank to only 87.6% of what Californian men were making.
To combat wage discrimination based on sex, the United States passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
And the State of California passed its own California Equal Pay Act (Equal Pay Act), which has been strengthened in recent years.
What Is the Equal Pay Act?
The Equal Pay Act forbids California employers from paying employees of different sexes less money for doing “substantially similar work.”
Under the Equal Pay Act, the definition of “substantially similar work” is work that is similar in skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.
Older versions of the Equal Pay Act required employers to pay employees of different sexes equally for “equal work,” but the new “substantially similar” standard gives California workers more protection and California employers fewer excuses for biased practices.
In 2017, amendments to the Equal Pay Act added prohibitions against unequal payment because of race or ethnicity.
Whether you suspect you have not received fair compensation because of ethnicity, race, sex, or gender, do not be afraid to speak to other employees about their wages.
A California employer cannot forbid its employees from sharing wage information, and those types of conversations can give you vital clarity about your right to make a legal claim.
Employer Defenses Under the Equal Pay Act
While its decisions regarding employee compensation cannot be based on sex, gender, race, or ethnicity, your employer still has some discretion regarding the pay rate each employee receives.
An employer does not violate the law if a worker who happens to be of a different sex or race receives more or less pay for one of the following reasons:
- A bona fide factor other than ethnicity, race, or sex;
- Productivity; or
However, not every employer who uses one of these defenses uses it honestly.
Consulting with an experienced attorney is crucial to maintaining a successful claim against a discriminatory employer and preventing an employer from abusing loopholes in the system.
How Do I Enforce My Rights Under the Equal Pay Act?
If you have learned that you earn less money than a colleague of a different sex or race who performs essentially the same work as you, you have a right to take legal action against your employer.
You can file a lawsuit in civil court, a claim with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, or a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
And what remedies can you receive if your employer violates the Equal Pay Act? Employers that violate wage discrimination laws can be obligated to pay the following:
- The difference in wages owed to the harmed employee,
- Interest, and
- Liquidated damages.
Liquidated damages in a wage discrimination case equal the sum of the difference in wages owed and the interest owed.
Contact Workplace Rights Law Group Today
When you confront an employer that has broken the law, you should have an experienced professional in your corner.
We have more than 75 years of combined experience. We have also represented employers in the past, so we know the best tactics to defeat them in hearings and settlement negotiations.
If your employer has not respected the value of your work, we can help make sure your employer respects your value moving forward.