Despite federal and state laws designed to end gender-based pay discrimination, including the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the California Fair Pay Act, the practice remains widespread. Generally, women earn about 77% of what men earn, and this number is even lower for women from minority groups.
Gender-based pay discrepancy has enduring effects on women, affecting their lifetime earning capacity, their standard of living, and their ability to provide for their families.
What is the Equal Pay Act?
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 is a United States labor law enacted to prevent wage disparity based on gender. The Act was passed as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act and established that women should receive “equal pay for equal work”. Under the EPA, men and women who labor under similar working conditions in a role that requires equal responsibility, effort, and skill need to be paid the same amount.
However, employees who take on substantially similar job roles can be paid different rates based on seniority, merit, educational background, and other factors that aren’t based on gender.
What’s more, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from paying an employee less for the same work based on gender. Other protected characteristics include race, color, national origin, and religion.
What is the California Equal Pay Act?
The California Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying an employee of a different gender, race, or ethnicity less than other employees for substantially similar work. The California Equal Pay Act was further strengthened when Governor Brown signed the California Fair Pay Act (also known as SB358) on October 6, 2015.
Among other things, the new Act made it unnecessary for the employees whose wages were being compared to work at the same establishment. The Act also made it more difficult for employers to satisfy the “bona fide factor other than sex” defense.
Employers, however, are allowed to pay different wages to employees based on the following:
- a seniority system
- a merit system
- a system that measures earnings based on the quantity or quality of work
- a bona fide factor other than race, sex, or ethnicity
What is Covered Under Equal Compensation?
Equal pay or compensation isn’t only limited to your salary, as it also encompasses the following:
- minimum wage
- overtime pay
- meals and rest breaks
- vacation leaves
- jury duty leaves
- voting leaves
- severance packages
Filing a Wage Discrimination Claim
Employees who want to file a wage discrimination claim based on gender, race, or ethnicity may file an administrative complaint with the California Labor Commissioner or file a suit in court. The statute of limitations for such complaints is typically two years from the date the violation was discovered. However, retaliation claims must be filed within six months.
Victims can also file a complaint with their local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) branch. Claimants have a two-year statute of limitations to file a claim under the Equal Pay Act.
Hire an Equal Pay Act Lawyer to Receive Just Compensation
As proving wage discrimination can be challenging, it’s best to consult an experienced and knowledgeable equal pay act lawyer to help you with your case. To build a substantial case against your employer, you’ll need to create a paper trail, as well as document the wage disparities as much as you legally can. Relevant data includes posted or published job descriptions, duration of employment, and pay slips.
Moving forward, the worst thing you can do is try to negotiate your claims on your own. Your employer could hire expert defense lawyers who will work hard to discredit your claims. Your employer could also make it hard for you to obtain witness declarations in support of your claims from your co-workers.
The best thing to do is to gather all the necessary evidence beforehand and work with top employment lawyers to help you resolve your case. Los-Angeles based Mesriani Law Group will leave no stone unturned while investigating your case and will work hard to ensure that you’re justly compensated for all of your suffering and damages.