Wage Discrimination

Wage Discrimination. Paying lower wages based upon one's protected status (e.g., age, gender, disability, race, sex) is unlawful. Everyone has a right to equal employment opportunities, including the right to equal pay.

Unfortunately, wage discrimination is a continuing problem in California. Data collected by the State of California from employers employing 100 or more in employees in 2021 indicates California's workforce was comprised of:

  • 52% Male and 48% Female workers;
  • 38% Hispanic or Latino workers; 
  • 33% White workers; 
  • 17% Asian workers; 
  • 6% Black or African American workers; 
  • 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander workers; and 
  • less than 1% American Indian or Alaskan Native. 

Yet jobs paying $144,560 or more, which make up approximately 15% of all jobs, were dominated by males (65%) and white workers (52%). In that same category of jobs, Hispanic or Latino workers comprised 9% of the workforce and Black or African American workers comprised 3% of the workforce. Meanwhile, jobs paying $32,239 or less, which make up approximately 37% of all jobs, were dominated by Hispanic or Latino workers (50%) with Black or African Americans occupying 8% of this category. The message is that wage disparity for reasons of race and gender is systemic in California. (The data is available here: https://pdr.calcivilrights.ca.gov/s/pay-data-results.)

Women packing prunes for two cents per box

California and Federal laws aim to prevent wage discrimination. For example, the Federal Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying employees of one sex less than employees of another sex. California's Equal Pay Act, Labor Code section 1197.5, expressly prohibits paying wage rates at a lower rate on the basis of sex, gender, race or ethnicity. California Labor Code section 432.3 also prohibits California employers from considering past salary history in making salary determinations for prospective employees, seeking past salary history from applicants, and requires employers to provide payscales for positions where requested.

If you believe you are paid less than your colleagues for discriminatory reasons, contact me to see if I can help.