Overview of Current California Laws

California’s Equal Pay Laws (as of September 2022)

For decades, the California Equal Pay Act (CA Labor Code Section 1197.5) has prohibited an employer from paying its employees less than employees of the opposite sex for equal work.

In September 2022, Governor Newsom signed SB 1162 (Limon), an amending existing law that relates to employment and expands pay data reporting requirements to better identify gender and race-based pay disparities:
Expands state pay data reporting requirements to cover contracted employees
Requires employers to make pay scale information for positions available to employees and included in job postings
Requires an employer, upon request, to provide to an employee the pay scale for the position in which the employee is currently employed
Requires a private employer that has 100 or more employees to submit a pay data report to the Department of Civil Rights
Requires an employer to maintain records of a job title and wage rate history for each employee for a specified timeframe, to be open to inspection by the Labor Commissioner.

In September 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 639 (Durazo), amending existing law related to employment:
Requires the State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) to develop and implement a plan to phaseout the use of the subminimum wage certificate program, which authorizes employers to pay less than minimum wage for employees with physical or mental disabilities, by January 1, 2023.
Prohibits an employer from paying an employee with a physical or mental disability, less than the legal minimum wage beginning on January 1, 2025.

In September 2020, Governor Newsom signed SB 973 (Jackson)- amending existing law related to pay data reports:
Effective January 1, 2021, private employers with 100 or more employees must submit annual reports of employees’ gender, race, ethnicity, pay, and hours worked data for the prior calendar year to the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Mandates employers to file an annual Employer Information Report (EE0-1) under federal law also submit a pay data report by March 31, 2021, and annually thereafter.

In September 2020, Governor Newsom signed SB 1383 (Jackson) to expand protected-family leave:
Prohibits an Employer (any person who directly employs five or more persons) to refuse to grant a request by any employee with more than 12 months of service with the employer, and who has at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, to take up to a total of 12 workweeks in any 12-month period for family care and medical leave.
“Employer” means either (had previously been 50 or more persons) to perform services for a wage or salary, or the state and any political or civil subdivision of the state and cities.

In October 2015, Governor Brown signed the Fair Pay Act (SB 358 – Jackson), which changed the law and strengthened our state equal pay law in a number of ways, including:

  • Prohibiting unequal rates of pay for employees of the opposite sex who perform “substantially similar work,” instead of “equal work;”
  • Eliminating the requirement that employees’ wage rates only be compared to those of other employees working in the same physical location or office (the “same establishment”);
  • Making it more difficult for employers to justify paying an employee of one sex less than another when they do substantially similar work by narrowing the defenses available;
  • Requiring that whatever factors an employer relies on to justify a difference in pay (like different levels of education, training, or experience) be job-related, used reasonably, and account for the entire pay difference;
  • Specifically making it illegal to retaliate or discriminate against employees who discuss or ask about pay, or take some step to enforce their own or a co-worker’s equal pay rights; and
  • Extending the number of years that employers must maintain records related to pay from two to three years.

In September 2016, Governor Brown signed the Wage Equality Act of 2016 with further amendments (SB 1063 – Hall and AB 1676 – Campos) to the Equal Pay Act including:

  • Adding race and ethnicity to the Equal Pay Act and thereby prohibiting employers from paying employees of one race or ethnicity less than employees of another race or ethnicity for substantially similar work.
  • Amending the Equal Pay Act to bar employers from relying on an employee’s prior salary (by itself) to justify unequal pay between employees doing substantially similar work.

In October 2017, Governor Brown signed two further amendments to the law (AB 168 – Eggman and AB 46 – Cooper) which take effect on January 1, 2018:

  • Prohibits all employers — including the Legislature, the State, and local government agencies — from seeking salary history information about an applicant for employment and requires employers to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant upon reasonable request.
  • Declares that the Equal Pay Act also applies to public sector employers, including the State itself, by defining “employer” to include both public and private employers.
50 Years of advancing issues and continuing action

DISCLAIMER: The materials provided on this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain legal advice about any particular issue or problem. The materials do not represent the opinions or conclusions of individual members of the Task Force. The posting of these materials does not create requirements or mandates.