Our Gender Discrimination Lawyers Represent Women in the Workplace Throughout California.
With ratification of the 19th Amendment, on August 25, 1920, women finally got the right to vote. But perhaps an even greater catalyst for gender equality was the introduction of women to the workforce.
Early wage-earning women began cutting a path towards independence in this nation’s long, and ongoing, fight for gender equality. Women who worked no longer had to rely solely on the financial support of their families or spouses. Women had the freedom to speak in their own voice, even if it contradicted the views of their parents or their husbands. With the means to support themselves, women’s fear of financial reprisal lessened and their influence on society grew.
As wage earners, women became social and political contenders. And as a result, legislation supporting women in the workplace was passed, including the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 (“EPA”). 29 U.S.C. §206. And for its part, California enacted its own equal pay statute, the California Equal Pay Act of 1949 (“CA EPA”). Cal. Lab. C. §1197.5.
However, despite this legislation, the wage gap persists. In 2017, women (regardless of race or ethnicity) still made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by male co-workers and experts estimate that it will take until 2059 for women to close the wage gap. However, when accounting for race, the statistics are even worse. Black women will not see wage equality until 2119, and Hispanic women will be waiting until 2224. Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “Pay Equity & Discrimination,” https://iwpr.org/issue/employment-education-economic-change/pay-equity-discrimination/.
In an effort to close the wage gap and extend the CA EPA, California signed the California Fair Pay Act into law in 2015 and has continued to amend the law every year to offer even greater protection to working women. However, the EPA and the CA EPA remain aligned in many significant areas. Jones v. Tracy School Dist. (1980) 27 Cal.3d 99, 111.
The EPA and the CA EPA were political victories for gender equality and endeavored to further empower women by providing them with pay equal to their male counterparts. The simple principle of the EPA is that “equal work will be rewarded by equal wages.” S.Rep. No. 176, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 1 (1963). In service of this principle, the EPA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex by paying different wages for equal work requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions. 29 U.S.C. §206(d)(1).
No. Unlike other anti-discrimination statutes (such as Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act), an aggrieved employee does not need to prove that the employer intended to discriminate against them on the basis of sex—the employee just needs to prove that they were paid less for similar work. Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc. (2007) 550 U.S. 618, 640 (overturned on other grounds by legislative action, Jan. 29, 2009).