How Do You Prove Equal Pay Discrimination?
By Corey Hanrahan
How do you prove equal pay discrimination? California’s Equal Pay Act protects employees against pay disparity based on sex/gender, race and national origin. To prevail on an Equal Pay Act claim, an employee must prove that the employer paid an employee of another race, gender or ethnicity higher pay for “substantially similar work.” Unlike federal law, California’s Equal Pay Act has no discriminatory intent element – and therefore, an employee does not need to prove that the employer intended to discriminate.
“… To prevail on an Equal Pay Act claim, an employee must prove that the employer paid an employee of another race, gender or ethnicity higher pay for “substantially similar work…“
Most times it will be apparent when other employees of different sex/gender, race or ethnicity are being paid more money. The difficulty in Equal Pay Act claims come from proving that the work was “substantially similar.” In essence, “substantially similar work” means that of the same composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. A focus is put on whether an employee is able to prove that the jobs at issue share a “common core of tasks.”
Additionally, under California’s Equal Pay Act, there are limited defenses available to the employer. There is no defense that the unequal pay rates are based on a collective bargaining agreement, or that it is the result of “business judgment.” The only defenses available to an employer under the California Equal Pay Act are: (1) seniority system, (2) merit system, (3) system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or (4) “differential based on any other factor than sex.” It is important to note that there is no “market rate defense” either (so an employer cannot rely on the defense that men must be paid more because they will not work at the rates paid to women).
If you are suffering from a pay disparity because of your sex/gender, race or ethnicity, contact The Hanrahan Firm for a free consultation to see how we can help you.