Employment Law Blog

Equal Pay for Equal Work: Updates to California’s Fair Pay Act


10/13/2016 by Joseph M. Hekmat


On September 30, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law changes to California’s Fair Pay Act to strengthen the protections offered to Californians by that legislation.  The Fair Pay Act (the “Act”) is legislation less than a year old that emerged out of efforts to address the persistent pay disparities that exist between the sexes as well as between certain ethnicities both in California and across the United States.  The recent changes to the Act not only broaden its scope to include race-related pay disparities but also address the issue of pay disparities that may arise from a job applicant’s prior unequal salary history.

California’s Fair Pay Act

California’s Fair Pay Act was originally signed into law by Governor Brown on October 6, 2015 and took effect on January 1, 2016.  As originally enacted, the Fair Pay Act protected Californians by requiring that employers pay members of both sexes equally for employees who, in the words of the Act, performed substantially similar work.  Although the Fair Pay Act as originally enacted was a good first step to ensuring pay equality in California, several changes were needed to not only clarify but to strengthen the scope of the Act.  As discussed below, these changes were recently enacted during California’s most recent legislative session and signed into law by California Governor Brown on September 30.

Recent Changes to California’s Fair Pay Act

Two pieces of legislation were passed during California’s most recent legislative session relating to the Fair Pay Act, both of which were signed into law by Governor Brown on September 30.  SB 1063 amended California’s Fair Pay Act to prohibit employers from paying employees a wage less than the wage paid to employees of a different race or ethnicity for substantially similar work.  In addition to this particular change, AB 1676 amended the Fair Pay Act to preclude employers from using a job applicant’s prior salary history to justify any gender-related differential between employees performing substantially similar work.  Although the recent changes to the Act did not go as far as a recent Massachusetts law that would ban potential employers asking job seekers about their prior salary history altogether, these changes will no doubt strengthen California’s Fair Pay Act.

Contact Hekmat Law Group if You Have Been a Victim of Unequal Pay Practices

If you have been the victim of unequal pay practices in your workplace based on your race, ethnicity or gender, contact the employee rights lawyers of Hekmat Law Group today.  We are aggressive attorneys who have extensive experience representing California employees in connection with their unequal pay and other employment law claims.  Contact Hekmat Law Group at 424-888-4LAW to discuss your potential legal options today.  We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding California equal pay laws and the initial consultation is always free.