California law strongly protects the right to equal pay, regardless of gender.

Our office provides free consultation and representation to California residents in cases involving the protection of employees who may be victims of unequal pay on the basis of gender.

Know Your Rights

An employee alleging discrimination in wages based on gender can bring claims under either federal law or California law.

Under federal law, the Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying employees of one sex less than employees of the opposite sex for performing equal work on jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions. Congress passed the Equal Pay Act out of “concern for the weaker bargaining position of women.” The law’s purpose is to provide a remedy for discriminatory wage structures that reflect “an ancient but outmoded belief that a man, because of his role in society, should be paid more than a woman …” The Equal Pay Act basically provides that an employer may not pay lower “wages” to female employees than it pays to male employees within the same establishment for equal work at jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions. (“equal work” doesn’t necessarily mean exactly equal. The work only needs to be “substantially equal”). A female employee claiming that an employer violated the equal pay act does not need to prove that the pay disparity was motivated by an intent to discriminate on the basis of gender.

Under California law, the California Equal Pay Act requires that an employee must prove that he or she is being paid less than an employee or employees of the opposite sex, of another race, or of another ethnicity who is performing substantially similar work. Under the California Equal Pay Act, an employee must show that the employer paid the employee of another race, gender, or ethnicity higher pay “for substantially similar work.” Once an employee makes this showing, the employer must then prove that it has a legitimate reason for the pay difference. Under the current law, an employer can defeat an Equal Pay Act claim by proving that the difference in pay for substantially similar work is due to seniority, merit, a system that measures production; and/or a “bona fide factor other than sex, race, or ethnicity.”

If you believe that you are a victim of the equal pay laws, it is important that you speak to an attorney who can advise you about your options to pursue a claim.

What Does “Equal Pay” Mean?

Equal pay includes all forms of payments made to an employee, including:

  • Wages
  • Salary
  • Deferred payments
  • Profit sharing
  • Stock options
  • Benefits as medical insurance, life insurance, retirement benefits
  • Expense accounts
  • Bonuses
  • Vacation pay
  • Cleaning allowances, gas allowances, or use of a company car

If I Am Not Getting Equal Pay, What Can I Do?

Employees who demonstrate inequality in pay may recover the difference in pay, including interest thereon, and an equal amount as liquidated damages, together with the costs of the suit and reasonable attorney’s fees.

If you believe you are not receiving “equal pay”, you may consider talking to your boss (and bring a co-worker with you as a witness to support you and establish that you’re engaging in protected, concerted activity). We also strongly recommend that you speak to an experienced employment lawyer to discuss your rights, your options, and the available remedies you might have.

The lawyers at our office regularly handle discrimination cases across the entire state of California. Reach out now for a free, confidential consultation and to learn more about cases brought on behalf of victims of gender pay discrimination.