An employer may not discriminate against an employee by paying lower wages based on sex. Employees are protected from this type of discrimination by the federal Equal Pay Act, the California Equal Pay Act, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The law applies to every employer covered by California minimum wage and overtime provisions, which means virtually every employer in the state. If you believe that you are being paid less than a co-worker of the opposite sex for doing the same job, then you should contact an experienced discrimination attorney as soon as possible.
When Is There A Violation of the Equal Pay Law?
Like the federal Equal Pay Act, the California law prohibits the payment of a lower wage rate to employees of one sex than the rate paid to employees of the opposite sex for jobs that require the following:
- equal skill
- equal effort
- equal responsibility
- similar working conditions within the same establishment
Differences in pay are allowed if an employer is using a system based on factors other than sex. An employer may apply different rates of compensation based on the following factors:
- a bona fide seniority, merit, or incentive system
- a system that measures pay by quantity or quality of production
- differences in the location where employees work
- the results of a professionally developed ability test
- differences in experience or training
All employers must maintain records of the wages, job classifications, and other terms of employment for every employee. These records must be kept on file for a period of two years.
Remedies for Equal Pay Violations
If an employee can establish a violation of the California Equal Pay Act, the employer must correct the difference by increasing the wages of the lower paid employee, not by decreasing the wages of the higher paid employee. Any employer that violates the California Equal Pay Act is liable in a civil action to the employee for:
- the amount of the lost wages
- interest on the lost wages
- liquidated damages in the amount of the lost wages
- litigation costs
- attorney’s fees.
A suit must be filed within two years after an employee discovers a violation of the law, or within three years if the employer’s violation was willful. An employee can also file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, which conducts an investigation and can institute proceedings to enforce the law.
If you believe that you have been the discriminated against by not receiving equal pay for the same work done as another employee of the opposite sex, you may be able to recover damages. You should seek the counsel of a reputable and experienced discrimination attorney as soon as possible.
The Law Offices of Mayor Joseph L. Alioto and Angela Alioto P.L.C. has successfully represented many clients in work-place discrimination cases. We will investigate all the facts to evaluate your claim and recommend the best course of action for your situation.