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Bryant Whitten, LLP

California may soon see more wage disputes over gender and race

Last year, California passed one of the most progressive measures to create gender wage equality. As many employers are starting to implement this law, another law is currently being considered to add additional language that will protect workers from racial wage discrimination as well. A recent article details some of the issues that could cause wage disputes as employers face stricter regulations.

A recent Tuesday was designated Equal Pay Day by the National Committee on Pay Equity, which may change every year as it signifies how far into the year the average woman had to work in order to earn the equivalent of the average man's previous year. Most state's governing bodies and corporations are considering enacting legislation to address this national issue. The California Fair Pay Act of 2015 is a nationally-recognized example of how recent legislation is trying to change this discrepancy.

One of the main functions of the California Fair Pay Act of 2015 is in the definition and broadening of an employer's relevant employee pool for wage comparisons. Instead of being based on the level of an employee, and thus a very small pool, it defines the pool as employees who perform substantially similar work. This will allow plaintiffs to more easily sue employers successfully when they believe they are being discriminated against due to gender.

The new laws and regulations will undoubtedly lead to many wage disputes in California. This will become especially true as the law could soon change to include wage bias based on race or other reasons besides gender. As the legislation is relatively fluid, it may benefit employees to contact an attorney to explore their legal options if they feel they face wage discrimination in their workplace.

Source: hreonline.com, "Pay Equity: New Pressures, New Strategies", Stefan Gaertner, Gail Greenfield and Brian Levine, April 12, 2016

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