March 15, 2019 Category: gender discrimination
It’s a well-known fact that women tend to be paid less than men. This is a reality for most women, regardless of their position or job title. Certain legal protections are in place to prevent these pay discrepancies. Despite these protections, a significant pay gap still exists. When women are paid less than men, they can turn to California’s anti-discrimination laws for help.
Earlier this month, Guidance Charter School agreed to pay $8,000 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, on behalf of a female tutor who worked for the school. According to reports, the woman was paid less than male tutors, even though their jobs were identical.
How Big is the Wage Gap?
There’s a saying: “another day, another dollar.” While this may be the case for men, it’s not exactly true for women. A more accurate saying for women would be something like “another day, another 80.5 cents.” Why? In 2017, women reportedly earned 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by a man. That’s a wage gap of nearly 20 percent.
The wage gap is even greater in “middle-skill operations.” Middle-skill jobs are those that pay at least $35,000 a year and don’t generally require a college degree. Many middle-skill occupations are dominated by either men or women, but not both. Women in middle-skill positions tend to earn about two-thirds of the pay men in middle-skill positions earn. That’s a wage gap of nearly 33 percent.
California Prohibits Sex Discrimination in Pay
California has some of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country. These laws are intended to promote equality and foster positive work environments across the state. Under state law, it is illegal for an employee to suffer adverse employment consequences because of a protected characteristic. Protected characteristics include, among other things, race, disability, age, and sex.
A woman suffers an adverse employment consequence if she is compensated less than a man because of her sex. Compensation doesn’t just have to mean take-home salary. Compensation can include:
- Health benefits
- Retirement benefits
- Access to company stock options
- Vacation, sick, and personal days, and
- Other benefits that are extended to an employee.
Employers are legally required to compensate equivalent male and female employees equally. Equivalency means that male and female employees have similar jobs with similar job roles and responsibilities.
Employers reserve the right to consider non-sex-based factors when determining an employee’s compensation. Employees may be compensated differently if there are real differences in the jobs they do. At the same time, employers may consider:
- Job responsibilities
- Tenure and years of experience, and
- Job performance.
However, it’s important to consider whether or not these factors are affected by an employee’s gender. Women may have fewer years on the job because they took time off to have and care for children. This doesn’t mean that men in the same position should be paid more. Employers must carefully consider whether or not a women’s sex has unfairly and adversely affected her rate of pay.
Employers Can’t Consider Salary History
For years, it has been common practice to disclose your salary history on a job application. Employers tend to use this information to determine how much an applicant should be paid if he or she should get the job. However, using an applicant’s salary history is discriminatory and adversely affects women.
Why? Women tend to be paid less. What an employee has been paid in the past is not an accurate indicator of job performance or ability. If future salary is based on past salary, the wage gap will continue to be a problem.
Since January 2018, employers have been prohibited from asking potential employees about how they’ve been compensated in the past.