The California Equal Pay Act is a longstanding state law that protects workers from salary-based discrimination. The goal is to enforce pay scale balance in the workplace amongst similar jobs; that way, no two people doing essentially the same work will have vastly different salaries.
Why is salary-based discrimination a problem?
In the sense that any sort of discrimination is a devastating problem, salary-based discrimination may be the most insidious form of toxicity. On the surface, since many consider it a faux pas to share their salary, unequal salaries seemingly exist as an invisible form of discrimination. Some people earn more, some people earn less, and few should ever know.
However, it is rare that salaries are often complete and total secrets. People talk about the work they do and the pay they receive. Even a person who does not share their income may understand that they are paid more or less than others. No edict against disclosure, no societal agreement to quiet, will ever change that reality.
And for those who realize they receive less money for equal work, there is a unique devastation. More often, it is women and people of color earning less than white male coworkers. This form of racial and sex discrimination is painful, and people can feel hopeless to address it, creating a toxic work environment.
How does the Equal Pay Act work?
The law prohibits unequal pay for two individuals with “substantially similar work.” Substantially similar, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations, refers to the skills, experience, effort, education, training, responsibilities, and working conditions of a specific position.
To file a claim, an individual must prove that a person of a different race, sex or ethnicity is performing similar work and makes more money. At that point, the employer must defend themselves by proving that the pay discrepancy is based on other factors.
In an ideal world, this wouldn’t be a problem
However, since it is, you deserve representation who will fight to get you the outcomes you deserve.