The Gender Wage Gap and The California Equal Pay Act

Author: Nicki Malekadeli
Posted on: September 20, 2019

Inequality continues to plague the world in different sectors despite facing continued strong opposition. To this day, minorities are treated poorly through acts of macro and microaggression in both the public and private sectors. In the workplace, one of the most common signs of inequality is unequal pay among workers of different genders. The United States Census Bureau found that the average gender pay gap in America is at 19.3% targeting women in particular. These numbers are only an estimate since other states can have better or worse numbers compared to the national average.

California is known to be one of the better places in the country that promote equal pay. It has the smallest pay gap at 10.9% and enforces some of the most protective laws to ensure men and women are treated as equals. The California Equal Pay Act came into legislation with the intention of closing the wage disparity.

What is the Gender Pay Gap?

The gender pay gap is the difference in salaries between male and female employees. It is usually presented as the median annual pay of women who work full time year-round compared to the average yearly income of their male counterparts. They can also be expressed as a comparison between weekly or hourly earnings, and be made more specific to highlight certain racial or ethnic groups.

This form of gender discrimination at work is a centuries-old problem that continued to exist in the modern era. For every dollar men make at work, women earn only $0.79 performing the same tasks, with some occupations perpetuating wage disparity more than others. Women who are part of minority groups also tend to earn lower. Job positions in the field of finance, health care, management, and law, for example, have pay ratios that range from 71 to 92 percent.

Challenging the Gender Wage Gap

Early attempts to fight the gender wage gap started when more American women took on industrial professions amidst the second World War. In 1942, the National War Labor Board encouraged companies and employers to make voluntary adjustments in payroll to level the playing field for men and women in terms of salary.

Unfortunately, the decree was considered to be merely a suggestion, and with the lack of strict enforcement, women continued to subsist on a fraction of what their male cohorts made. They were also forced to resign at the end of the war to make way for returning veterans.

California first took action in 1949 by passing the Equal Pay Act. It then refined its provisions by enacting the Fair Pay Act in 2015. More changes are being made to the law to keep up with the demands of the masses and to finally bring the wage gap to a close.

The Outdated Equal Pay Act

The California Equal Pay Act of 1949 stipulated that no employer should pay an individual less because of their gender. That is, two employees of the opposite sex who possess the same job title and responsibilities must incur the same salary.

This law was a good start to narrow the gender wage gap, but it had many flaws that permitted employers to find loopholes for noncompliance. For example, the law made exceptions for cases involving seniority, merit, and quantity and quality of work. Companies used these to their advantage to cite irrelevant considerations and labeling them as “bona fide factors other than sex.”

The California Fair Pay Act Now

The California Fair Pay Act was signed in 2015 to strengthen the provisions of the Equal Pay Act of 1949. With the new bill, employers are mandated to provide equal wages to employees who perform “substantially similar work.” In other words, men and women whose tasks are performed under the same conditions and require the same skill, knowledge, or expertise must be paid the same amount. This also applies even if the employees are of different positions but are doing similar work.

It also made it harder for employers to cite “bona fide factors other than sex” when justifying unequal pay. But when legitimate factors are taken into consideration, companies must ensure that pay inequities are reasonable and that such determinants apply for the entire wage gap. Workplace retaliation against employees who question or complain about gender pay gaps is also prohibited.

Additional amendments were passed in 2016, which included protective provisions made specifically for minorities who are of a different race or ethnicity. Comparing wages is also no longer limited to jobs of the same establishment, and discussing or inquiring about such matters in the workplace cannot be reprimanded. You can now compare your salary with those who have the same position as you in other workplaces and see whether or not you are being paid appropriately.

Hire a Seasoned Equal Pay Act Lawyer

Unequal pay is a serious matter that should never be taken lightly. Although many laws have been passed to safeguard the working class, many still violate its provisions, from employment discrimination to unequal pay practices. Claiming damages for equal pay discrimination is a daunting task, as it would require you to go up against your employer. Never pursue your claims or reach for a settlement with your employer on your own as you are putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage. They may have more resources than you and hire defense lawyers who can negotiate down your claim or disprove it altogether. Hire an expert labor law attorney from Mesriani Law Group to get the most out of your case and get the compensation and justice you deserve.

Mesriani Law Group is home to the best employment law attorneys in Los Angeles to give you the best legal aid possible. Contact our firm today to get a free legal consultation and avail of our services at a No Win No Fee Policy.