A CALIFORNIA EQUAL PAY ACT VIOLATIONS ATTORNEY WILL ADVOCATE ON YOUR BEHALF
Wage inequality is a form of discrimination. Despite the many laws on the books regarding workplace discrimination, wage discrimination between men and women is still common. At Macías Rodríguez Adams LLP, we have experience litigating Equal Pay Act claims. 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. A California Equal Pay Act violation lawyer can help if you face equal pay discrimination.
California Equal Pay Laws
The federal Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying working women less than men for “equal” work. California’s Equal Pay Act significantly 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 under California law, which means that employers cannot justify differences in pay merely because employees are based at two different work locations. Additionally, as of January 1, 2017, employers cannot pay employees differently based on their race or ethnicity.
Under the California Equal Pay Act, an employer wishing to pay a female employee less than a male employee has the burden of justifying the disparity by demonstrating a valid:
- Seniority system
- A merit system
- A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality or
- 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 it is warranted by legitimate business necessity. Even then, an employee can prove a violation of the California Equal 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 California Equal Pay Act.
Notably, the California Equal Pay Act also contains protections for employees to help determine whether they may be victims of equal pay violations. For example, the Act contains pay transparency provisions that explicitly prohibit retaliation for inquiring about wages or disclosing or discussing wages. The Act, however, does not obligate employees to disclose their own wages.
If you believe you are being or were compensated at a level below another employee performing equal or substantially similar work based on sex, race, or ethnicity, you may have a claim under the federal Equal Pay Act and/or the California Equal Pay Act.
Equal Pay Violations Are Subject to a Strict Liability Standard
Employers are held strictly liable for equal pay violations under the law. This means that it doesn’t matter whether the violation was intentional or negligent or whether it was discriminatory in nature. If you can prove that your employer violated the Equal Pay Act, a California Equal Pay Act violations lawyer can help you recover your unpaid wages plus damages.
Take Action Now to Protect Your Rights
Violations of the Equal Pay Act are subject to statutes of limitations or deadlines by which you must pursue your claim. If you fail to file a lawsuit before the statutes of limitations expire, you could lose all of your rights.
While employers can be held liable for violations regardless of whether it was intentional, it does affect the statute of limitations:
- Willful violations of the Equal Pay Act: three years
- Non-willful violations of the Equal Pay Act: two years
In other words, you have less time to pursue a claim if the violation was due to your employer’s negligence.
Three or even two years sounds like a long time, but it’s not as long as you might think. Determining when the statute of limitations begins to run is complicated. Furthermore, the distinction between a willful violation and a non-willful violation isn’t always clear.
Do not risk your claim by assuming you have plenty of time. If you suspect that you are being paid less than your co-workers in violation of the Equal Pay Act, you should contact a California Equal Pay Act violations lawyer as soon as possible.
You May Be Entitled to More Than Just Wages
Under the California Equal Pay Act, claimants can seek payment of the difference in their wages, interest, and an amount equal to that in liquidated damages. In addition, if they file suit, they may also be able to recover their attorney’s fees and costs.
An experienced California Equal Pay Act violations attorney will be able to accurately calculate the total amount of your claim so that you can rest assured that you are being made whole.
Proving Your Claim
Proving that you are paid in violation of the Equal Pay Act can be very challenging. Employers facing claims are unlikely to admit they have violated the Act; in addition to the legal and financial exposure, these claims can also reflect poorly upon their company. As a result, employers will attempt to argue that you are not engaged in substantially similar work as your peers. You will need compelling evidence that focuses on several factors, including the following:
- You and your colleagues have positions that require the same level of skill
- Each position requires the same level of mental and physical effort
- Each position carries the same degree of responsibility and accountability
- Each position requires the employees to work in the same conditions and face the same workplace hazards
Gathering the evidence that you need to prove your case can be difficult and time-consuming. An experienced California Equal Pay Act violations lawyer can gather the evidence you need to build a successful claim.
Contact A California Equal Pay Act Violations Attorney Today
You have the right to take action in response to unequal pay. If you believe you are not being paid fairly, contact a California Equal Pay Act Violations Lawyer to set up a free consultation.