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California’s Fair Pay Act & Gender Equality

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that will make it more and more challenging for California employers to discriminate against women because of their gender when it comes to compensation. The California Fair Pay Act is said to be the nation’s most aggressive equal pay law and becomes effective January 1, 2016.

Generally speaking, women in California make 84% of what men make and some of the state’s biggest industries have even larger pay disparities. In Silicon Valley, for example, men with Bachelor’s Degrees make 40% than women with the same education, and men with a graduate or professional degree make 73% more. The tech industry is not alone when it comes to unequal pay for men and women. If you believe that your employer is paying you less because you are a woman, the law is on your side. Contact an experienced Orange County employment attorney to discuss your legal rights.

Under the new Fair Pay Act, employers are required to pay men and women the same for “substantially similar work,” not just the exact same job. There are a few very narrow exceptions, such as if the differences are based on productivity, merit, and/or seniority. In other words, the law does not just require the same pay for the same job, but for different jobs that are similar in terms of effort, responsibility, and skill.

What’s more, under California’s new law employees are allowed to openly discuss their pay without fear of retaliation. Even though all US workers have a legal right to discuss compensation with each other, about half say that doing so is either discouraged, prohibited, or could lead to disciplinary actions, making it challenging for women trying to address unequal pay. Not any more. You and your co-workers will be allowed to discuss your wages and any attempt on your employer’s part to silence you is unlawful.

Lastly, employees will be allowed to take action against wage gaps between different worksites, not just at their own location. This means that if your co-worker at a different office is making more than you for doing “substantially similar work” you may be able to bring a claim against your employer and recover the financial compensation you are rightfully owed.

For more information about California’s Fair Pay Act, or to discuss gender inequality at your place of work, contact the experienced employment attorneys at Hardin & Associates today.