Broader Prohibition of Gender Wage Differentials Enacted
Currently, Section 1197.5 prohibits an employer from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work. The amendment revises this prohibition, instead prohibiting an employer from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for “substantially similar work.” “Substantially similar work” is determined by analyzing a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, while considering whether the work is being performed under similar working conditions. SB 358 does not require such “substantially similar work” to be “in the same establishment” of the employer as previously required by Section 1197.5.
Employer Required To Demonstrate Exemptions
Section 1197.5 automatically exempted certain gender wage differentials related to payments based on a seniority system, a merit system, quantity or quality of production, or any bona fide factor other than sex. SB 358 amends Section 1197.5 to require that an employer must affirmatively demonstrate that: (i) a wage differential is based on a seniority system, a merit system, quantity or quality of production, or any bona fide factor other than sex; (ii) each factor relied upon is applied reasonably; and (iii) these factors account for the entire wage differential.
Anti-Retaliation Protections Introduced
SB 358 added a provision to Section 1197.5 that prohibits an employer from discharging, discriminating or retaliating against an employee by reason of any action taken by the employee to invoke or assist in any manner the enforcement of this legislation. This new provision authorizes an employee to disclose the employee’s own wages, discuss the wages of others, inquire about another employee’s wages, or aid or encourage other employees to exercise their rights under this legislation. If an employee is discharged, discriminated or retaliated against in the terms and conditions of his or her employment because the employee engaged in any such protected conduct, the employee may seek reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer as well as other appropriate equitable relief.
Recordkeeping Duration Lengthened
SB 358 also increases the duration of recordkeeping requirements of wages, wage rates, job classifications, and other terms and conditions of employment from two years to three years.
Wage Garnishment Restrictions Modified
This law reduces the prohibited amount of an employee’s weekly earnings subject to levy under an earnings withholding order from exceeding the lesser of: (i) 25% of the employee’s weekly earnings or (ii) 50% of the amount by which the employee’s earnings for the week exceed 40 times the minimum wage (SB 501).