What Happens If A Company Violates The Equal Pay Act?
By Corey Hanrahan
What happens if a company violates the equal pay act? There are harsh damages when a company violates California’s Equal Pay Act. But first let’s take a quick step back and discuss the Equal Pay Act. Under the California Equal Pay Act, an employee does not need to prove that the employer intended to discriminate, unlike a Title VII claim. However, the damages under California’s Equal Pay Act are a little less broad than those under Title VII. Also, California’s Equal Pay Act prohibits pay disparity based on sex/gender, race and ethnicity. Title VII, however, has not been expanded to include race or ethnicity – so kudos to the State of California.
“…California’s Equal Pay Act prohibits pay disparity based on sex/gender, race and ethnicity. Title VII, however, has not been expanded to include race or ethnicity…“
An employee who prevails on an Equal Pay Act claim is entitled to the recovery of backpay. However, if the employer is unable to prove that it was acting in good faith, the employee is also entitled to an amount equal to the backpay. So, essentially, if the employee prevails on the Equal Pay Act claim, and the employer is unable to prove it was acting in good faith, the employee is equal to double back pay.
So while bringing a claim under Title VII may seem appealing due to the ability to recover punitive damages, that appeal is short sighted. Proving a claim under Title VII is much more difficult than a claim under California’s Equal Pay Act due to needing to prove a discriminatory intent. Additionally, even though a prevailing employee on a California Equal Pay act is not entitled to punitive damages, the punitive damages are essentially built into the claim due to the “double damage” entitlement.
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.