A Guide to the California Equal Pay Act

The California Equal Pay Act, which took effect on January 1, 2018, is a law that prohibits employers from paying men and women different wages for the same work. It also requires employers to provide employees with pay information upon request.

The california equal pay act 2020 is a federal law that prohibits wage discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.


The Equal Pay Act of California prohibits businesses from paying workers less for equal work based on their gender. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against workers who file complaints under the Act. You may be eligible to launch a class action lawsuit or a California Equal Pay Act complaint against your employer if you believe they have violated any of the requirements listed below.

Is the Equal Pay Act in California brand-new legislation?

While the California Equal Pay Act has been in existence for decades, according to the state’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), it is often amended and was enhanced by an additional legislation called the California Fair Pay Act in 2015. The Fair Pay Act modifies the Equal Pay Act in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Employers must pay employees equally for “substantially comparable labor.”
  • To show a violation, employees do not need to compare work done at the “same institution.”
  • It is now far more difficult to demonstrate that a “bona fide factor other than sex” caused inequality.
  • Employers must depend on valid reasons to establish pay disparities, and they must be able to demonstrate that those variables are responsible for the whole pay disparity.
  • Employers are prohibited from retaliating against workers who attempt to enforce the Act.
  • Employers are now required to keep pay and employment records for three years instead of two.

These modifications took effect in January 2016, however the California Equal Pay Act has been amended on an annual basis since then. Race and ethnicity, for example, were included as protected categories in 2017. This amendment implies that, just as it forbids employers from paying less for substantially comparable work based on a person’s sex, the law bars employers from doing so based on a person’s race or ethnicity. An employer cannot also use an employee’s previous income or compensation to explain pay disparities among individuals of various races, gender, or ethnicities.

The California Equal Pay Act was expanded to include public workers in 2018. This amendment also bans (with certain exceptions) businesses from requesting applicants’ salary histories and compels companies to disclose pay scales to workers upon request.


What Protections Does the California Fair Pay Act Offer?

The California Fair Pay Act amends the Equal Pay Act to include measures that safeguard workers. Employers are prohibited from compensating employees of the opposite sex, or of a different race or ethnicity, for essentially comparable work. According to the DIR, the job should be regarded as a “combination of talent, effort, and responsibility… done under comparable working circumstances.”

An employee may submit a complaint under the California Equivalent Pay Act to seek reimbursement for the pay and interest disparity, as well as an equal amount in liquidated damages. A person may be entitled for attorney’s fees and court expenses if they file a class action lawsuit under this Act.

Those who submit complaints under the Equal Pay Act are likewise protected by the law. Employers may not retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint, and they may not prevent workers from discussing their pay with others or encouraging others to use their Equal Pay Act rights.

1631369482_111_A-Guide-to-the-California-Equal-Pay-Act-TopWhat Is the Process for Filing an Equal Pay Claim Under the Equal Pay Act?

You may file a California Equal Pay Act complaint or a class action lawsuit if you believe you were paid less for the same job because of your sex, color, or ethnicity. Complaints may be made with the Labor Commissioner’s Office, as well as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, depending on the allegation.

Successful Equal Pay Act lawsuits in California must demonstrate a variety of factors. They must first demonstrate that they are being paid less than workers of the opposing gender, race, or ethnicity. They will also have to demonstrate that they do “substantially comparable work” to the comparative workers.


“Substantially comparable work” refers to tasks that are similar in terms of ability, responsibility, and effort and are completed under similar circumstances. Skill refers to the education and training required to do the job. The term “responsibility” refers to the extent to which workers are held accountable. The mental or physical effort required to complete the task is referred to as effort. Finally, working circumstances relate to the actual surroundings of a worker, such as ventilation, temperature, and the presence of fumes or other dangers.

Once an employee has shown these two points, the employer will be able to explain any wage disparities. If your employer can refute or explain the reasons listed in your complaint, your Equal Pay Act case may be rejected.

When Is It Necessary to File a Complaint?

The California Equal Pay Act has a two-year statute of limitations. This implies that an employee has two years after the alleged violation to submit a complaint or launch a lawsuit against their company. The employee, on the other hand, has three years to file if they can show that their employer intentionally broke the law. Each paycheck that reflects uneven pay is a violation of the act for the purposes of determining a reporting deadline.

Due to the California Equal Pay Act’s statute of limitations, the time you file may impact the amount of compensation you’re entitled for. For example, if a woman starts working in 2018 for an employer that pays her less than her male colleagues on a consistent basis, she has until January 2020 to submit a complaint demanding compensation for uneven pay dating back to 2018. If she waits until 2021 to apply, she will only be able to recover wages from the previous two years, from 2014 to 2019. However, if the business starts paying the woman equal pay in 2019 and the employee does not file until 2021, she would have missed the time for receiving unequal pay recovery since the latest infraction will be beyond the California Equal Pay Act statute of limitations.

Under the Equal Pay Act, how may a claim be dismissed?

The same reasons that an employee must show in order to properly submit a California Equal Pay Act complaint may be used by an employer to have the complaint rejected. An employer must show that the wage disparity is justified by a difference in seniority, merit, productivity, or a “bona fide reason other than race, sex, or ethnicity” to defeat a claim.


The employer must also show that the justifying factor accounts for the whole wage disparity in a reasonable manner. Race, sex, ethnicity, or the employee’s previous wage cannot be blamed for any portion of the pay disparity. An employer may, however, make compensation choices based on the employee’s existing pay, as long as one of the criteria mentioned above is used to justify the decision.

The California Equal Pay Act is a law that was passed in the year of 1963. The act protects women from being paid less than men for equal work. It also applies to any employer with at least 20 employees. Reference: california equal pay act reporting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the California Equal Pay Act guarantee?

The California Equal Pay Act guarantees that all employees and employers must pay the same amount for equal work.

Who does the California Equal Pay Act apply to?

The California Equal Pay Act applies to any employer with more than 20 employees.

Does California have an Equal Pay Act?

Yes, California does have an Equal Pay Act.

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