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California’s Fair Pay Act Expected to Influence Federal Legislation

What should California employers know about the California Fair Pay Act?

California took a momentous step forward in achieving equal pay with the passage of the Fair Pay Act.  This law was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October of 2015 and took effect this past January.  The law requires that employers pay employees of the opposite sex equivalent wages for substantially the same work performed, viewed as a combination of skill, responsibility, and effort, and performed under similar conditions.  California’s Fair Pay Act presents a significant change from the former requirement that all employees receive equal pay for equal work.  Now, employers will need to look beyond job titles to consider what is substantially similar work.

Not only does the law alter the definition of fair pay, but it also expands the ability of employees to bring wage discrimination claims.  Employees alleging wage discrimination can now compare their pay with that of employees performing substantially similar work not just in the same establishment, but at other work sites as well.  Employers now have the burden of proof to justify that pay discrimination between male and female employees is related to a bona fide factor, other than sex.  The combined impact on employees and employers alike is significant, and so far Californians have embraced the changes.

Federal Law May Soon Mirror California’s

Since California passed its progressive Fair Pay Act, several other states have followed suit.  New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland have all passed new laws similar to, and some even stronger than, California’s.  It is now widely speculated that federal law may soon be amended to embody some of the fair pay practices adopted by California and other states.  The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was created to prevent sex discrimination, but its definition of equal pay and remedies more closely resembles California’s old laws.  Future changes on a federal level may depend in part on the outcome of the November election, but it seems likely federal equal pay laws may soon be strengthened.

For assistance with your corporate law matters in California, contact our San Diego attorneys at Brunoro Law.  We offer a complimentary one-hour consultation either in our office, over the phone, or via video conferencing.

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