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How Do I Prove Wage Discrimination in California?


Proving a wage discrimination claim in California requires an employee to demonstrate that they were paid less than their coworkers because of their sex, race, or ethnicity when they performed the same or substantially similar work.

This can be done with the following types of evidence:

  • Detailed records of wages paid to each employee
  • The job’s description and list of expected job duties and qualifications
  • Each employee’s actual job duties or responsibilities
  • Comments or records showing unlawful discrimination

Wage discrimination can be a complicated legal matter to resolve. If you believe your employer is unfairly compensating you because of discrimination, it’s important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

What Is Wage Discrimination?

According to the California Equal Pay Act, wage discrimination refers to any employer’s wage practices that provide unfair pay to any employee because of their sex, race, or ethnicity when they perform substantially similar – or the same – compared to employees of the opposite sex or a different race or ethnicity.

What Is Considered Substantially Similar Work?

According to California law, “substantially similar work” is work that is mostly similar in skill, effort, and responsibility while performed under similar conditions.

Skill is the expertise, capacity, knowledge, and training required to execute a job; effort pertains to the physical or mental exertion necessary for producing results in one's work; responsibility refers to accountability and duties connected with performing an assignment; and working conditions refer to unfavorable health risks (fumes, temperature, etc.) or hazardous settings at the workplace.

What If Someone Has a Different Job Title?

If two employees’ jobs are considered “substantially similar,” then a difference in job titles may not excuse unequal pay.

For example, a “senior office assistant” may not make more money than an office assistant if two employees’ jobs are substantially similar. If this is the case, and there is evidence that the pay disparity is based on sex, race, or ethnicity, then the employee paid less may have a valid wage discrimination claim.

How Do Employers Defend Against Unequal Pay Allegations?

When confronted with allegations of unfair wage practices, employers have a few defenses available to them. Employers can argue that any pay disparity is due to seniority, merit, a system assessing productivity, and/or a bona fide factor that isn’t sex, race, or ethnicity.

This means that any wage discrimination claim should be thoroughly investigated and documented to provide the best possible chances of success. An experienced attorney can anticipate the defenses your employer may use and counter them with evidence that supports your claim of wage discrimination.

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

K2 Employment Law can provide assistance with wage discrimination claims, ensuring that employees can have a chance to recover wages or benefits they should have been paid.

Our experienced lawyers can review the facts of your claim and provide reliable advice to help you pursue fair and just compensation. We understand the complexities involved in wage discrimination cases including pay disparities, unequal pay for comparable work, and on-the-job harassment.

We will fight aggressively to ensure that you receive the wages and benefits that you are entitled to, regardless of your sex, race, or ethnicity.

Schedule a free initial consultation with us – contact K2 Employment Law online now to learn more.