The California Equal Pay Law prohibits employers from paying any of their employees at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions (CA Lab. Code Sec. 1197.5(a)). The law applies to all public and private employers, regardless of size.
An amendment to the law in 2015 removed a requirement that employees work at the “same establishment,” so any pay differential must be examined across the employer’s business as a whole, regardless of location.
Race or ethnicity. The law prohibits employers from paying employees a lower wage rate than the rate paid to employees of another race or ethnicity for substantially similar work when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions (CA Lab. Code Sec. 1197.5(b)).
Retaliation prohibited. It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate or otherwise discriminate against an employee who has taken any action to exercise his or her rights under the law or who has assisted in any manner to enforce the law.
Differences in pay are permissible if they result from:
• A system that measures quantity or quality of production; or
• A bona fide factor other than sex. This factor applies only if the employer shows it is not based on a sex-based differential in compensation, is job-related, and is consistent with a business necessity (i.e., an overriding legitimate business purpose for which there is no alternative business practice that would serve the same purpose without producing the wage differential).