San Francisco Equal Pay Lawyer

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Wage inequality is a form of discrimination, and the wage gap continues to persist today. At Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP, we are committed to ensuring that you are not being paid less than another employee performing equal or substantially similar work based on your sex, race, or ethnicity.

California Equal Pay Laws

The federal Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying women less than men for “equal” work.  California’s Equal Pay Act significantly expands that requirement by stating that California employers must pay male and female employees equally for “substantially similar” work when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility. There is also no “same establishment” requirement in the California law, which means that employers cannot necessarily justify differences in pay because employees are based at two different office locations.  Additionally, as of January 1, 2017, employers cannot pay employees differently based on their race or ethnicity.

The California Equal Pay Act

Under the California Equal Pay Act, an employer wishing to pay a female employee less than a male employee has the burden of justifying the disparity, by pointing to a (1) seniority system; (2) a merit system; (3) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality; or (4) “a bona fide factor other than sex,” such as education, training, or experience. An employer seeking to justify a wage disparity by pointing to a bona fide factor other than sex must also demonstrate that the factor is related to the position, and that is it warranted by business necessity.  Even then, a female employee may prove a violation of the California Equal Pay Act by showing that an alternative business practice exists that serves the same business purpose without any wage difference. Employers are also prohibited from reducing salaries to comply with the California Equal Pay Act.

Importantly, the California Equal Pay Act also contains protections for employees to help determine whether they are the victims of equal pay violations.  For example, the Fair Pay Act contains pay transparency provisions that explicitly prohibit retaliation for inquiring about wages, or disclosing or discussing wages.  The Fair Pay Act, however, does not obligate any employee to disclose wages.

See also: California New Fair Pay Act.

If you think you’re being paid less than another employee performing equal or substantially similar work based on sex, race, or ethnicity, you may have a claim under the federal Equal Pay Act or the California Equal Pay Act.  Both of these statutes require you to file a claim within certain time periods; otherwise, you may lose the right to pursue your case.  You should consult with an attorney experienced in litigating equal pay claims to discuss your situation.