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siagn states Equal Pay with symbols of man & woman

California's Equal Pay Act
Fair Pay Act


For decades now, the California Equal Pay Act has prohibited an employer from paying its employees less than employees of the opposite sex for equal work.  New changes to the Equal Pay Act became effective January 1, 2016. The most significant changes to the Act are:

  • Requiring equal pay for employees who perform “substantially similar work,” when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility.

  • Eliminating the requirement that the employees being compared work at the “same establishment.”

  • Making it more difficult for employers to justify inequities in pay through the “bona fide factor other than sex” defense.

  • Ensuring that any legitimate factors relied upon by the employer for pay inequities are applied reasonably and account for the entire pay difference.

  • Explicitly stating that retaliation against employees who seek to enforce the law is illegal, and making it illegal for employers to prohibit employees from discussing or inquiring about their co-workers’ wages.

  • Extending the number of years that employers must maintain wage and other employment-related records from two years to three years.


Effective January 1, 2017, race and ethnicity were added as protected categories. California law now prohibits an employer from paying its employees less than employees of the opposite sex, or of another race, or of another ethnicity for substantially similar work. The provisions, protections, procedures, and remedies relating to race- or ethnicity-based claims are identical to the ones relating to sex. In addition, employers are prohibited from using prior salary to justify any sex-, race-, or ethnicity-based pay difference.

Effective January 1, 2018, the Equal Pay Act now covers public employers. Also effective January 1, 2018, and on January 1, 2019, Labor Code section 432.3 was enacted (and later clarified) to prohibit employers, with one exception, from seeking applicants’ salary history information and requiring employers to supply pay scales upon the request of an applicant. 


If you have any questions or need more information about your rights or responsibilities regarding equal pay, please contact me for a FREE confidential consultation at (916) 333-4653 or


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