You may have remembered Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech last year, calling for more attention to equal pay for women. Her stance made a stir not just within the industry but among California state legislators. The new year has brought a new equal pay law and standard for employers. One that will be harder to meet, bringing good news to employees in California.

Amendment to Labor Code: Senate Bill 358

State legislators brought forth a new bill that would amend existing California Labor Code. Senate Bill 358 set forth new equal pay laws. The most significant being the requirement of equal pay for “substantially similar” work. This is a tougher standard to meet because employers can no longer stamp labels on job titles to differentiate employees and pay. The actual job and work that is done is what will be examined when it comes to equal pay issues.

The goal of this bill was to bring increased attention to equal pay laws for employees as well as prohibiting employers from anti-disclosure policies. In the past, employers could discourage or even prohibit employees from disclosing or discussing their wages or salaries. This made it harder for employees to compare or even know if there was a pay disparity based on gender.

It is hard to foresee exactly how this will impact employment litigation or how courts will interpret the law. However, it is important to understand your rights as an employee. For more information or to discuss a potential employment law case, reach out to any experienced employee rights attorney in California.