At Work

Equal pay California style

Hey, who is opposed to equal pay for men and women, not me. Nevertheless, California thinks there are large numbers of employers who simply say, “since you are a woman, I’m going to pay you less.” To correct this they pass another law as if there are not already scores of laws against pay discrimination.

Wall Street Journal September 1, 2015

Cal­i­for­nia law­mak­ers gave fi­nal ap­proval on Mon­day to leg­is­la­tion that seeks to en­sure equal compensa­tion for women in the work­place by prohibit­ing em­ploy­ers from pay­ing dif­fer­ing wages to em­ploy­ees who do “substan­tially sim­i­lar work.”

The leg­is­la­tion would pro­hibit re­tal­i­a­tion against em­ploy­ees who inquire about their colleagues’ salaries. It also would al­low an em­ployee to chal­lenge pay based on the rate that other employ­ees of the same company re­ceive at dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions. And it would require em­ploy­ers to show that pay rates are based on fac­tors other than gender.

“Ensure”  equal pay you say? Look at the Law text below (I added the emphasis).  Virtually every differential in pay is attributable to one of the factors underlined, but how would you like to defend your action when someone claims their pay is only lower because of their gender? What you don’t see as a qualifier is experience so why hire a women with minimal experience in a job if you must pay her the same as a newly hired man with years of experience?

California Equal Pay Act – California Labor Code § 1197.5

1197.5. (a) No employer shall pay any individual in the employer’s employ at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where the payment is made pursuant to a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a differential based on any bona fide factor other than sex.

image“We don’t think this is go­ing to in­crease lit­i­gation, we think it is go­ing to pro­vide an ob­jec­tive crite­ria where you can have le­git­i­mate wage dif­fer­entials,” said Jen­nifer Barrera, pol­icy ad­vo­cate for the Cal­i­for­nia Cham­ber of Com­merce. “The bill spec­ifies a legit­i­mate ba­sis upon which an employer can have a wage dif­fer­ential, and em­pha­sizes that it can­not be based upon gen­der.” WSJ 9-1-15

Provide objective criteria? Those criteria already exist. Try proving those criteria if you are an employer. What you have is more feel good liberal dripple.

Exactly how many employers pay women less solely because they are women and not related to one of these “objective criteria.” We look at general broad statistics and automatically conclude we have found another battle in the war on women. In addition, pure discrimination is already dealt with under any number of federal laws.

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Categories: At Work, Government, Politics

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5 replies »

  1. As long as the difference in pay is not based on gender, no problem. Everyone has different levels of experience at any job, so the law gives companies an easy out. Except maybe for 2 new high school grads with zero experience and most of those people are paid the exact same $7.25 per hour. A non-law as I see it and very hard to prove the reason for higher pay is just gender.

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    • The problem is the prof will be on the companies as it is now at the federal level. A woman claiming discrimination because of pay difference will be very difficult to disprove by justifying a merit system for example. I wouldn’t want to be an employer trying to deal with this.

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      • That is why I do not live in CA any longer. But the law has exclusions and any good lawyer should be able to defend against a claim. I am very sorry it has come to this, but the crazies in Taxifornia think this kind of law is going to help. Not a chance.

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  2. Since when do lawsuits have to be legitimate to be filed? The lawsuits will still cost companies money to get thrown out but due to lack of prior documentation before this law, I bet a lot of them will go forward.

    I often wonder how studies come to these conclusion being that I am neither subject to gender or racial discrimination. I am not saying that it does not happen because everybody is bias, it is just that I do not directly see it because I am not in the hiring process. It seems like to me that a lot of studies just look at a group of W-2’s and say this group made less. Did they have to take time off to care for family? Do they refuse overtime to be home after school? Even in my union shop there is about $40k difference between the top wage earner and the bottom wage earner in my classification but we all make the same hourly wage.

    It seems to me any results would take decades to determine if they were successful or not. It seem like government intentions are good but the results will higher costs to employers in California and maybe a few jobs will leave the state.

    I, myself was subject to reverse discrimination back in the early 1980’s due to affirmative action. I was the wrong color to be hired into civil service at the time so I found a private sector job that paid double over civil service and had about the same benefits at the time. I now make 4x what I would be making if I went civil service. So how did that work out for the “discriminated” that kept me from a civil service job? Why didn’t they look for the job that I took. They would have gotten hired because a few applied and did get hired.

    I currently work in a union. The pay is exactly the same for everybody in a classification both male and female, white or black or Asian or Indian. I’ll admit that there are some that should be paid less because they are slackers and others that should be paid more because they are go getters. But we are all paid the same and I am not sure that is right.

    I look at our supervisors and they are paid in a salary range plus they get performance incentives. Some get sizable raises and some don’t because they didn’t deserve them and why others didn’t remain a mystery. Some get bonuses based on performance and sometimes it seems like politics have an influence on the size of the amount. Other portions of the incentive base bonus and raises are based on upper and senior managements decisions which are often totally out of the supervisor’s control or even in his or her own department. The difference for those supervisors varies by $10k or more and yet most do the exact same thing managing rotating shift workers 24/7. At times, I do not know how the company justifies it.

    What kind of documentation is going to be required to justify those types of merit based pay?

    I just can’t imagine what it will take to prove pay discrimination short of someone today out right saying I am not paying a women any more money. I believe that it happens, but how do you prove it. Besides every employee agrees to work for a wage and if they don’t like they can quit to find someone who will pay them what they think they are worth.

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  3. Gee, looks like employers will have to document, document, document the reasons for their pay increases. Unfortunately, there is no documentation of this extent for all past decisions. So, we have retroactive application or an argument of continuing harm from past actions?

    Obviously, we also have a comparative evaluation issue as well, so, if manager X pays all customer service reps in location A, which happens to be a high cost location, whose employees happen to be mostly male, … Versus low cost locations where employees are mostly female …

    Doesn’t seem to allow for differentiation for differences in location costs, benefit plan differentials, etc. how is bona fide defined?

    Have a nice day.

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