Nationwide, employers pay women 81% of what they pay men; and in California, employers pay women 88% of what they pay men. [i] It’s illegal for employers to pay women less than men for doing substantially similar work under similar working conditions. If sex discrimination is illegal, why is there still a significant difference between male and female pay?
One possible reason is that female employees typically don’t know how much their male co-workers are being paid, so they don’t demand equal pay. Some employers prohibit employees from discussing the amount of their compensation with each other, so women working for those employers may never find out they’re being paid less than their male co-workers. It’s illegal in California for employers to prohibit or punish employees for discussing their pay with each other.
Another possible reason for the gender pay gap is that some employers base new employees’ starting salaries on their salary history. Because women have historically been paid less than men, using employees' salary histories to set their starting salaries keeps the gender pay gap in place. It’s illegal in California for employers to pay women less than men based on their salary histories.
The most likely reason for the gender pay gap is the enormous loophole in the law prohibiting unequal pay. In California, it’s illegal to pay women less than men for doing substantially similar work under similar working conditions—unless the employer can demonstrate that the pay difference is based on seniority, merit, quantity or quality of work, education, training, or experience. So, even if an employer’s decision to pay women less than men is intentionally discriminatory, employers can always argue that the pay difference is justified by one of those factors.
If you’ve been paid less than your male co-workers for doing substantially similar work under similar working conditions, we may be able to take legal action to get you the compensation you deserve.