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Is equal pay protected under California law?

The struggle for closing the pay gap between men and women is an ongoing issue. Women consistently earn less than men for the same work, and it may seem that there are not any legal routes to solve this discrepancy.

In California, however, the law actually protects equal pay for men and women. The California Equal Pay Act is legislation that regulates this area of the workplace. Learn more about this particular law and how it may apply in your situation.

Understanding the California Equal Pay Act

The California Equal Pay Act is a part of the state's workplace laws that prevent employers from paying an employee of the opposite sex less money for equal work. There are several parameters of this law. As of September 2016, this law added race and ethnicity in addition to gender as factors where equal pay is required. Many employees in California are likely unaware that the law protects their right to equal pay regardless of their gender, race or ethnicity. If you suspect your employer is paying you less because you are a woman or less because of your race or ethnicity, you can take action to assert your rights under this law.

Protecting your rights in the workplace

Your employer must follow workplace laws, and if you fight for your rights, you are likely helping many other employees avoid future discrimination as well. Even if employees are aware of this law that protects their rights, sometimes they choose not to speak up. Often this comes out of a fear of some sort of retaliation by the employer, such as termination or additional discrimination at work. Although this fear may be legitimate, employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees who seek to assert their rights under the law. It is important for you to have the courage to speak up for your rights and use the laws that are there to protect you. 

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