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CA has long been the leader in eradicating discrimination in employment. Currently a particular area of emphasis is in removing barriers of pay discrimination especially in regards to sex, race and ethnicity through a combination of enhanced enforcement supported through increased legislation. This combination not only attacks individual discrimination but more importantly strips aside the protection of arguments and practices that whether intentionally or not, still have the effect of causing systematic discrimination. Even honest mistakes due to using bad data or mere lack of education in compensation can now be costly. Other employers can no longer hide behind empty arguments or they risk facing costly legal challenges. Such challenges will be easier for employees to prove, since CA employees benefit from their right to increased access to other employee’s pay information.
Most employers do not set out to discriminate. Such practices are often the inadvertent result from individuals, even those highly educated and experienced, who view compensation through a comparative lens of a combination of their own salary and their personal opinions regarding how people should be paid. Logic goes out the window when those individuals if in authoritative and decision-making positions force their highly personalized and misguided opinions regarding pay onto the organization. Not only is that view bad business in general but it can be disastrous in CA. An employer can no longer even depend solely on job titles to determine wage rates. To further complicate matters, recently the Governor of CA, signed into law AB 168, which bars CA employers from asking job applicants about their previous salary.
Teri Morning, MBA, MS, specializes in solving company "people problems"