California's Equal Pay Law Gets Tougher

Historically, California is known for having some of the toughest equal pay laws in the nation, and on Jan. 1, 2016, lawmakers made those laws tougher.

For years, California has been requiring employers to pay men and women equally when they have the same job, but as of Jan. 1, the state expanded upon that concept, saying that men and women must be paid equally when they are engaged in “substantially similar work.”

Under this new law, employers can no longer hide behind fancy job titles. Instead, it comes down to the type of work that the employees are engaged in.

For example, a female hotel housekeeper may contact our office because she’s being paid less than the male custodians who clean bathrooms and common areas. This new law aims to fill in the gray areas.

According to CNN Money, it takes a woman 469 days to earn what a man makes in 365 days, and on average, women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Even in industries where women dominate, such as teaching and retail, women still earn less than men.

Additionally, on Jan. 1, employers can no longer fire or retaliate against employees who discuss the pay of their coworkers to fellow employees.

Advocates of the new law believe that pay secrecy is one of the biggest reason that pay inequality exists, especially when people have no idea that they’re underpaid for their work.

Lawmakers have been considering a national equal pay law for over 50 years, however, it has yet to materialize. Meanwhile, California’s own version has been around for decades, but the way the laws were written, female employees found it difficult to prove discrimination.

California’s new law is more balanced because it lets employers know what they can and cannot do. For instance, a company can pay an employee more because he or she has more education, training or experience, which many will agree makes sense.

No employer likes to be sued, and the clearer the law is, the more employees can exercise their rights to equal pay.

Do you believe that you are being paid less than your coworkers because of your gender? If so, contact Attorney Alan Burton Newman, PLC to explore your legal options!