Equal Pay Laws Article
California Labor Code 1197.5 prohibits making payment of wages at rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment illegal when the job performance requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which is performed under similar working conditions. This California law is patterned on a similar federal law.
However, different pay rates are permitted where the different rates arise under a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a differential based on any bona fide factor other than sex. (Labor Code 1197.5(a)). As a result, in equal pay cases, the focus is on qualifications and work of the employee and the better paid employee or employees. The greater the pay disparities shown by the employee, the greater the justification that will be required from the employer.
Different pay for labor is permitted where there is materially different work. To compare rates of pay, the two employees must be equal as to skill, effort and responsibility and must work under similar working conditions.
Damages for violation of this provision include not only the recovery of any wages lost as a result of the discrimination together with interest on those lost wages, but also liquidated damages in a like amount. Attorney's fees may be recovered in a private action to enforce this section. (Labor Code 1197.5(g)).
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