San Francisco Equal Pay Lawyer

Equal Pay for Equal Work

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. Wage inequality is a form of discrimination and our equal pay lawyers are dedicated to these victims.

California Equal Pay Laws

The federal Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying women less than men for the same work.  California’s Fair Pay Act 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.

The Fair Pay Act

Under the Fair 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 Fair 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 Fair Pay Act.

Importantly, the Fair 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.

Statute of Limitations

After working hard at her job for almost two decades, Lilly Ledbetter learned that she was paid less than her male colleagues who were performing the same work. She filed a sex discrimination claim that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Her claim did not succeed because the Court held that the law as written required her claim to be filed within 180 days of her employer’s initial decision to pay her less than it paid her male coworkers.

In 2009, Congress enacted the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to allow employees to file a claim within 180 days of receiving any discriminatory paycheck. President Obama signed the Act into law on January 27, 2009.