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Equal Pay Act FAQs

Equal Pay Act Frequently Asked Questions

Equal Pay Act Frequently Asked QuestionsGender-based wage discrimination has been a long-standing issue in California, and nationwide. The California Equal Pay Act was enacted in order to combat this type of discrimination. Unfortunately, the law has not eradicated the pay gap, and women are continually paid less than their male counterparts. Many employees have questions about what is unlawful, and what is legal, when it comes to the Equal Pay Act, and below are some frequent inquiries lawyers are asked. If you have additional questions, or believe you have a claim, please contact the Orange County gender discrimination attorneys at the Serendib Law Firm to find out more about how we can assist you.

Do You Have to Have the Same Job Title to Be Paid Equally?

No. The California Equal Pay Act requires that all employees must be paid the same for “substantially similar work,” regardless of job title.

How Do You Measure What Jobs Are “Substantially Similar”?

The combination of skill, which includes experience, ability and education; as well as effort, and responsibility in the role all determine whether jobs are substantially similar. Whether work is performed under similar working conditions is also a factor. If you are unsure if your job is substantially similar to another employee who is being paid differently, a knowledgeable Orange County attorney can assist you in making this assessment.

What Evidence Is Necessary to Show Unlawful Discrimination?

If there is a difference in wages between genders, despite performing substantially similar work, that is evidence enough where an employer must then show a bona fide factor, other than sex, to justify the wage gap.

Are There Exemptions an Employer Can Use Under the California Equal Pay Act to Justify Differences in Pay?

An employer can offer one of four defenses to gender disparity in pay:

  1. A seniority system – where pay is based on how long an employee has been with their employer.
  2. A merit system - where differences are based on performance reviews and evaluations.
  3. A productivity system – which calculates pay by quantity or quality of production.
  4. A bona fide factor other than gender - such as education, training, or experience.

If you believe you’ve been subject to unfair wage disparity, a qualified Orange County gender discrimination attorney can help you determine your next legal step.

An employer may also justify unequal pay under the bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) defense. This requires a showing that those excluded from a job is due to their inability to perform its duties safely and effectively. The employer must also show that its business operation would be undermined if these exclusions were not made, and that unequal pay is consistent with that business necessity.

Can I Discuss My Wages With Co-workers?

Yes. In fact, the California Equal Pay act, as amended, includes an anti-retaliation provision which protects employees who disclose their own wages, or inquire and discuss the wages of others. Transparency is vital to uncovering and combatting wage disparity and the law offers additional safeties to workers who exercise their rights to this knowledge.

Aside From Gender, Are There Other Protected Classes for Wage Discrimination?

The California Equal pay act also includes race and ethnicity as protected categories. This means employers are prohibited from paying employees less than other employees if another race or ethnicity.

Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Claim Under the Equal Pay Act?

Claims must be filed in court within two years of the date of the violation. Where a violation is willful, an employee has three years in which to file a claim.

Contact a California Discrimination Lawyer

If you believe you are being paid less by your employer based on gender, race, or ethnicity, you might have a claim under the California Equal Pay Act, or another anti-discrimination law. The Orange County discrimination attorneys at the Serendib Law Firm assist clients with all their employment law needs, and are available to answer any questions you may have about your legal rights. We offer our legal services to clients throughout Southern California including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. Please call our office at 1-800-LAW-8225 (800-529-8825) or contact us online to find out more.

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