Discrimination |
May 21, 2019

Salary History and Pay Scale Issues Addressed by California Bill 2282

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women who work full-time earn, on average, 82 cents for every dollar a man earns. The disparity is even larger for women of color. A number of factors lead to these pay discrepancies. Experts believe that one such factor is allowing employers to rely on an employee’s past salary in setting the salary for a position, as an employee’s past salary may itself reflect discrimination.

To address this issue, California enacted AB 168. AB 168 added section 432.3 to the California Labor Code. AB 168 made it unlawful for an employer to rely on the salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer an applicant employment or what salary to offer an applicant and to seek salary history information, including compensation and benefits, about an applicant for employment. It also required employers to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant for employment.

Overview of California AB 2282

California enacted AB 2282 as a follow-up measure to AB 168, to clarify certain provisions of AB 168. Effective January 1, 2019, AB 2282 amends California Labor Code section 423.3.  A California employment law attorney can explain in more detail, but a summary description of the law’s legal highlight may be helpful.

Three Legal Issues Covered by the New Law

Lawmakers enacted AB 2282 in an attempt to remedy three specific points about the previous bill.

  • Specific Definitions: The law goes into greater detail on unclear or indefinite terms, including:
    • Applicant is defined to refer to individuals seeking employment, as opposed to current personnel;
    • Pay scale is defined to be a wage or salary range, excluding bonuses and other factors; and,
    • Reasonable request applies to situations after the candidate finishes a first interview.
  • Salary Details: California employers cannot request salary history information from a job candidate, but they can ask an applicant what he or she may expect for pay.
  • Acts in Compliance with the Law: AB 2282 clarifies that an employer can rely upon salary information of existing employees under certain circumstances. An employer does not contravene the law when basing disparate wage decisions upon:
    • A seniority system;
    • A definable merit-based program;
    • A plan of compensation focusing on quantity or quality of performance;
    • Education, training, or experience; or,
    • Most other employment-related factors that do not take race, ethnicity, or related issues into account.

Employee Rights Under California AB 2282

As incorporated into the existing Equal Pay Act, the new law allows employees to file a civil cause of action to enforce their rights. If an employer violates the law regarding salary history and pay scale, a worker who experienced adverse action can initiate litigation to seek compensation for any losses, such as back pay, the value of employee benefits, and any interest that accrues. In addition, an aggrieved employee can seek equitable relief, including job hiring and reinstatement.

Consult with a California Wage Discrimination Attorney Regarding Legal Remedies

If you believe that an employer has violated the restrictions relating to salary history and pay scale issues under Labor Code section 432.3, please contact the California employment lawyers at Minnis & Smallets LLP. Our team has extensive experience handling employment disputes for workers who are harmed by misconduct in the workplace. Concerned employees can reach our attorneys by calling our office or completing an online form.