California Amends Labor Code to Further Protect Employee Conduct & Equal Pay

The California state legislature has amended its labor code to create a rebuttable presumption in favor of an employee or applicant for employment’s claim that an employer discharged the employee or applicant or in any manner discriminated, retaliated, or took any adverse action against the employee or applicant because they engaged in protected conduct under the code, if the employment action occurred within 90 days of the protected activity.

A rebuttable presumption in favor an employee’s claim has also been created when an employee claims that they have been discriminated against for engaging in protected activity regarding any of the following:

  • Paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to an employee of the opposite sex for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions, except upon a specified demonstration by the employer. 
  • Prohibiting an employee from disclosing the employee’s own wages, discussing the wages of others, inquiring about another employee’s wages, or aiding or encouraging any other employee to exercise these and other rights. 
  • Discharging or discriminating or retaliating against an employee because of an action taken by the employee to invoke these and other provisions.

Additional civil penalties have also been created for employers who retaliate against an employee for disclosing information to certain entities or for providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of a law.

The changes go into effect on January 1, 2024.