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California Labor Law Update: Fair Pay Act Signed Into Law

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Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed SB 358, the California Fair Pay Act (FPA) into law on October 6, 2015. This law clarifies and strengthens the existing California Equal Pay Act. Generally, these laws secure the rights of men and women to receive equal pay for performing equal work.

The California Fair Pay Act, among other things, ensures equal pay for women performing work that is "substantially similar" to the work of their male counterparts. This language is updated from the original law, which stated that the work must be "equal." The law lays out with more specificity situations where a wage differential between men and women performing substantially the same job may be justified. The FPA also allows employees to inquire about and discuss the pay of other employees without fear of retaliation or discrimination. The law applies to private and public businesses and will go into effect January 1, 2016.

This change arguably makes it easier for an employee to compare his/her work to another and assert any pay difference is gender biased. The question of when are work duties "substantially similar," however, will be a factual issue that may ultimately need to be resolved by judge or jury. For example, an employee's level of experience, his/her training, and past work performance are among factors that could play into a determination of pay level beyond gender.

Contact Freeland Law APC for a free 30-minute consultation with Michael Freeland, experienced employment lawyer serving San Diego, California.

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