Category: wages

Technology giant Hewlett Packard Enterprises has been accused of sex and gender discrimination. A recent class action lawsuit reveals that the company may not compensate male and female employees equally. Instead, female employees routinely receive lower pay and fewer incentives than male co-workers who have similar experience and work roles.

What Are Former Hewlett Packard Employees Saying?

One employee explains that she learned about the company’s gender-pay discrimination practices after being promoted to a job with access to salary information. She discovered that men were routinely paid a higher base salary than equally-competent and deserving women. When she left the company, she was told in confidence that she was underpaid for her job.

Another employee describes what happened after she assumed additional company responsibility when a male supervisor passed away. She was expected to take over all of the supervisor’s roles and responsibilities. However, she was not given a new job title or paid the same amount the supervisor had received. She didn’t even get a formal promotion. Instead, she simply received a 2 percent “performance-based” raise. The company expected the female employee to do the same job as a man, but for much less money.

Discrimination Based on Sex and Gender Are Prohibited

Employers in California are not allowed to discriminate against applicants or employees on the basis of sex. In other words, employers can’t pay women less money just because they’re women. Compensation schemes cannot take an employee’s sex or gender into account. How much an employee is compensated should be solely based on factors that are relevant to the job.

Factors that can influence an employee’s salary or compensation can include:

  • Education
  • Prior work history and experience
  • Relevant job skills
  • Awards and recognition, and
  • Other neutral factors that are not based on a protected status.

Compensation for employees should be relatively comparable when employees focus on these – and only these – neutral factors. Based on these factors, male and female employees of similar age, education, and experience should be compensated similarly.

Women Often At a Disadvantage Even When Neutral Factors Considered

Women can still be at a disadvantage and earn less than men when an employer considers factors that are seemingly neutral. However, the truth of the matter is that certain factors, such as experience, may not be so neutral after all.

Women may not have the same opportunities as men to gain experience. Why?

Consider the fact that:

  • Men tend to be promoted through companies faster than women
  • Men are more likely to secure executive or managerial positions than women, and
  • Women often take time off from work to have children and take care of families.

This can directly affect a woman’s ability to be (a) hired instead of a competing man, or (b) compensated equally to male counterparts.

California Now Prohibits Employers From Asking About Salary History

Women have historically been paid less money than men for the same job. This can adversely affect a female applicant who goes out in search of a new job. In the past, employers have used salary history to determine how much an employee should be compensated in a new position. Using this information simply causes the cycle of gender-pay discrimination to continue.

A new California law now prohibits employers from asking new job applicants for information about how much they’ve been paid in the past. Salary history can have no bearing on how much a new hire should be paid. Salary computations must be based on the most neutral and applicable criteria possible.

It’s important to note that this new law doesn’t help current employees. Your compensation was probably computed using information about how much you’d been paid in the past. The new law can’t undo this. However, it will apply if you decide to look for a new job.


California law prohibits sex and gender discrimination. This includes how employers calculate how much an employee will be paid. Have you been underpaid because of your sex? Contact the employment discrimination attorneys at the Briski Law Firm to learn about your legal rights. Your first consultation is free, so call for help today.