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5 Important Protections for Women Employees Under the California Fair Pay Act

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Fair Wages in California

California may be the most employee-friendly state in the nation, but many workers are still cheated out of fair wages. One of the most consistently-underpaid groups of workers are women, who earn an average of 84 cents to each dollar earned by men, despite performing the same work in the same positions. However, a new law aims to eliminate this pay disparity, bridging the gap between male and female workers.

My name is Bill Turley. I have two daughters and I am ticked off. I am ticked that they live in a world that doesn't pay woman for the same work that men perform.  When I recently was asked to testify in front on the California State Senate on wage issues I was speaking to many successful woman California State Senators.  They got it. And so do I.


What You Need To Know

The California Fair Pay Act (SB 358) became law in October 2015, and the statute took effect on January 1, 2016. The Fair Pay Act amends Section 1197.5 of the California Labor Code, providing additional protections to employees commonly denied fair pay.

Under the California Fair Pay Act, employers have a duty to:

Justify pay gaps between male and female employees:

One of the most important provisions of the law is that the burden of proof for wage inequalities has been placed on the employer, not the employee. Not only do employers have to provide evidence for different pay rates, the evidence must be substantial enough to justify the entire amount of the gap.

Provide legitimate reasons for pay differentials:

Employers are tasked with providing specific, relevant, non-gender related factors to justify differences in pay between men and women in similar positions. Accepted factors may include skill level, seniority, education, and specific measures of productivity.

Pay equally for similar (not equal) work:

 Previous laws required men and women with equivalent education, experience, and seniority to be paid the same for “equal” work. To prevent employers from denying pay based on their interpretation of “equal,” the new law requires identical pay for “substantially similar” work.

Provide the same wages for equal workers in all locations:

Language in previous laws required equal pay for workers with the same backgrounds and responsibilities working in “the same establishment.” Again, the new law clarifies that pay equity extends to all of the locations run and controlled by the same company, rather than to workers in the same building.

Allow workers to discuss pay rates: 

Many employers forbid employees from discussing their salaries, hoping to discourage any discovery of inequality. The new law makes it illegal to prevent workers from discussing their salaries or the salaries of other employees as long as the purpose is to determine pay equity, and also from discriminating or retaliating against any workers who ask, disclose, or discuss company wages.


If you suspect that your employer is violating the Fair Pay Act, you could have a case against the company. Learn more about California wage theft in our free guide, The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide To Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back.


Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation. 

William Turley
“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”
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