California Labor and Employment Lawyer  and the Equal Pay Act

After multiple studies found that women make significantly less money than men do, equal pay has been a deep concern for many California residents, from working women to economists to legislators. Although a number of state-level equal pay laws have been on the books for many years, starting as early as 1949, a number of new laws have been passed recently in order to make certain that employers of all sizes are compensating their female employees fairly.

Let’s take a brief look at the history of equal pay laws in California as well as the two big changes that California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law in September and which went into effect in January 2017.

The California Equal Pay Act of 1949

California has taken steps toward equal pay for almost eight decades. In 1949, lawmakers created the California Equal Pay Act of 1949, which stated: "No employer shall pay any individual in the employer's employ at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work on jobs.”

While this was a good start, the law was not specific enough to actually result in equal pay for women. In fact, as of 2015, women in California were still only being paid on average 80 cents for every dollar that men were. It was soon clear that the state’s equal pay laws would have to become more specific to garner the needed results.

Fair Pay Act Expansion in 2016

Since 1949, a number of changes have been made to better ensure equal pay for equal work. In 2016, two big changes were passed by lawmakers and took effect in 2017:

First, employers can no longer use prior salary as a reason to pay women less than men. This is because using prior salary to determine current salary simply propels unfair wages for women further into the future, and gives businesses an excuse to offer less. From now on, different pay rates can only be based on factors like:

  • Different levels of experience.

  • Different levels of education.

  • Different levels of knowledge and/or training.

  • A difference in output quality.

  • A difference in output quantity.

The second change is that all of the principles of the Fair Pay Act have been applied to cover salary or payment rate differences between members of different races or ethnicities. This change took place after research showed that women of different races, such as African-American women, were paid on average less than white women.

Consult With A Southern California Employment Attorney Today

We should note that not all equal pay issues are due to the conscious bias of employers; rather, many equal pay issues are due to unconscious biases that are hard to correct without policies in place. For this reason, it is important that fair pay laws are in place and that employers comply with these laws completely.

At CKB VIENNA, we can make certain that your business is following every aspect of California’s equal pay laws, or that you are well-represented if faced with litigation related to an equal pay or fair pay issue. To learn more about our legal services, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.