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11 Jan 2017


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California Requires Equal Pay for Equal Work

The state of California updated it's CA Equal Pay Act with the Fair Pay Act which requires employers to grant equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.

The amended Equal Pay Act prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees wage rates that are less than what it pays employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.

 “Substantially similar work” refers to work that is mostly similar in skill, effort, responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. 

Under the amended Equal Pay Act, an employer must keep records of wages, wage rates, job classifications, and other terms and conditions of employment for a period of three(3) years.

Employees can ask his or her employer about how much other employees are paid, however, the law does not require an employer to provide that information.

An employer may not prohibit an employee from disclosing his or her own wages, discussing the wages of others, inquiring about another employee’s wages, or aiding or encouraging any other employee to exercise rights under the Equal Pay Act.  Accordingly, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for engaging in such conduct.

Employees who feel retaliated against can file a retaliation claim within six months of the retaliation.

If an employee they've been discriminated against they must file a claim within 2 years from the date of the violation.  If the violation is willful, then an employee must file within 3 years.  Each paycheck that reflects unequal pay is considered a violation for the purpose of calculating the deadline for filing.

If an employee wins a case against an employer, the employee can recover the difference in wages, interest, and an equal amount as liquidated damages. If an employee files a case in court, he or she can also recover attorney’s fees and costs.

Employers can defeat an Equal Pay Act claim by proving that the difference in pay for substantially similar work is due to:




-a system that measures production; and/or a “bona fide factor other than sex.”


In addition, an employer must show that it applies the above factor(s) reasonably and that the factor(s) accounts for the entire difference in wages.


CA Equal Pay Act

By Wendy Stewart














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