August 2, 2021

California Equal Pay Act 2021

What Is the California Equal Pay Act?

One in five women in California live in poverty – 20%, according to a recent study. And yet, if gender pay equity existed today, the poverty rate among women would drop by more than half.

Because this single issue has the potential to positively impact a wider range of issues – affordable housing, childcare, transportation and more – we chose to target equal pay as a means to improve the quality of life for women and girls in California.

California Equal Pay Act Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit allows a small number of plaintiffs to file suit and efficiently represent the claims of other people who have the same or similar claims.

If my employer has not been sued, can I start a new class action?
If you meet certain qualifications (for example, your employer has enough workers to qualify as a class), this is a possibility that we would like to discuss with you. In starting a new class action, you would need to agree to act as a class representative, perhaps along with a few of your fellow workers.

What do I need to do to join one of the class actions?
If a lawsuit against your employer has been started and a class to which you belong is certified by the court, you will receive notice in due course. If your mailing address has changed since you last worked for an employer, please contact the employer’s HR department and provide an updated mailing address.

If I file a class action, can my employer retaliate against me, or even fire me?
It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a worker for bringing a valid claim. We would be prepared to go to court to prevent or seek redress for any such retaliation.

Has my employer been sued?
We have filed a number of suits since January, 2021. Please consult our list of pending lawsuits to find out if we have an active lawsuit against your employer (or former employer).

What should I do if my employer offers to pay back pay?
Talk to a lawyer first. Many of the offers that we have heard about are very low. For example, we heard of one employer who is offering to pay back pay for 2020 if the worker will release all claims for 2018 and 2019. This is a “pennies on the dollar” offer. Everyone considering any settlement offer from the employer should speak to a lawyer first.

Should I ask my employer before hiring a lawyer?
Generally, no. Your communication with your lawyer is confidential.

How much will this cost me?
The lawyers bringing these cases have agreed to advance all costs and to seek compensation from the outcome of the lawsuit as ordered by the Court.

I don’t speak English well. Do you have a translator?
We are prepared to engage translators as necessary to communicate with class representatives.

California Equal Pay Act Statute Of Limitations

How long could this take?
That is hard to say. Sometimes cases settle within a few months, and at other times cases go to trial more than a year later. Your employer may be included in our pending lawsuits. Please click on the lawsuit against your employer to check the current status of the case.

Can we do this over the phone, or do I have to travel to your office?
If you are interested in becoming a class representative for an employer we have not yet sued, we would be happy to answer your initial questions over the telephone or email (at no cost to you), but if you become a class representative, we would need to meet in person. W

Class members who are not class representatives will receive notice as directed by the court at a later date if and when the class is certified.

Timeline of California’s Equal Pay Laws

What is the current status of the cases you have filed?
As of December 20, 2020, we have fifty-five active cases. Settlement discussions are ongoing in a number of cases. Final settlement of our case was approved on January 7, 2021. Settlements on two other cases have been preliminarily approved by the court and are moving through the noticing requirements. Others are progressing through the court-issued case schedule.

California Gender Equality Law

Having a law is one thing; enforcing it is another. The Equal Pay Act of 1963, a federal law, was enacted “to prohibit discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.” It’s overseen by the EEOC, but here’s the rub: enforcement is reactive. Issues don’t surface as part of a regular monitoring program, they surface when women file claims.

California's Wage & Hour Laws

The California Commission passed a resolution (No. R-433-16) last May, to create the California Women’s Compact, which will engage the private sector in committing to close the gender pay gap. The California Commission on Human Rights and the Commission for Women are working to get the program rolled out, including a website hosted by California to gather data and commitments from employers. The Women’s Fund is shining a light on the issue, educating the community, and celebrating employers who commit to equal pay. We are collaborating with The Commission for Women to help the County program get a head start.

California Equal Pay Act Complaint

Our goal is to make sure every woman in California is paid fairly — women doing the same jobs as men should be paid equally.
We’re looking for leading organizations to join us in a compact to bring pay equity to every workplace.
Signing the Compact gives employers the opportunity to be part of a diverse group of companies – large and small, for-profit and nonprofit – leading the way toward gender pay equity.

California Equal Pay Act Cases

On March 31, 2005, plaintiffs in Northern California filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of female Financial Advisors who alleged that Smith Barney discriminated against them in account distribution, business leads, referral business, partnership opportunities, and sales support.
In November 2006, an Amended Complaint was filed, which added additional plaintiffs from Southern California and Florida, and amplified and clarified the allegations in the original Complaint to conform with the evidence plaintiffs have obtained through extensive discovery. The suit is brought on behalf of a nationwide class of all female Financial Advisors employed at Smith Barney since August 30, 2003, and a California subclass of all female Financial Advisors employed at Smith Barney in California since June 25, 2003.

Wage theft is often directed at the most vulnerable of workers: those in lower paying jobs who, for various reasons may not be inclined to seek justice for the harm done to them. Fortunately, the law protects such workers by permitting them to sue for full recovery of the stolen wages and, in some cases, to receive double the amount of the unpaid wages. Where the employer’s wrongdoing affects many workers, the claims of the group can be efficiently addressed with a wage and hour class action. The wage statutes also provide for the payment of the worker’s attorneys’ fees in successful cases, so in some cases, the employer can be compelled to pay workers’ attorney’s fees. Most importantly, the law provides protection from retaliation by employers against workers who stand up for their rights, whether the worker prevails in his case or not.



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