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What is the California Equal Pay Act?

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2023 | Employment Law - Employee

The California Equal Pay Act provides protections against discriminatory pay practices. This act prohibits paying workers less based on sex, race, or ethnicity for performing substantially similar work. This work must occur under similar working conditions.

What is “substantially similar work?”

What does the Equal Pay Act in California define as “substantially similar work?” Besides being performed under similar work conditions, the work must require similar:

  • Effort
  • Skill
  • Responsibility

Effort in a wage and hours claims case refers to the mental or physical exertion required for workers to do the job. Skill refers to the necessary education, training, individual abilities, and experience.

Responsibility is the overall accountability and responsibilities the job entails. Working conditions include potential hazards and physical surroundings.

How does the current act differ from the former?

Some of the changes with the new act:

  • The current act removes the requirement that the jobs be at the same entity.
  • The term “equal” was replaced with “substantially similar.”
  • Anti-retaliation protections were added to the current act.
  • New language keeps employers from prohibiting workers from discussing or disclosing wages.
  • The act forbids employers from using a worker’s prior salary to justify discriminatory behavior.

How do workers prove an employer violated the act?

You need to prove that an employee of another ethnicity, the opposite sex, or another race doing similar work was paid more. Your employer may try to prove that the pay difference is for a legitimate reason.

You may file a claim if the person paid more than you has a different job title. As long as the work was “substantially similar,” you may have a case. Thinking about the protections you have with wage claims is worth the effort.