Although prohibiting gender-based wage discrimination since 1949, California’s Equal Pay Act (Lab C §1197.5) was rarely used as a basis for litigation because its language made it difficult for an aggrieved plaintiff to establish a successful claim. But now that the legislature has amended it, §1197.5 may become more popular with plaintiffs. And employers get more clarity about what is and isn’t allowed.
In one of the largest class action law suits ever, Betsy Dukes and approximately 1.5 million current and former female Wal-mart employees brought suit for discrimination against women in Wal-Mart’s promotion and pay policies. The United States Supreme Court ruled against class certification in a decision that has significantly changed the legal landscape for large-scale federal class action lawsuits.
As reported on Law.com, a recently-filed suit accuses Citigroup of using “companywide layoffs during the recent financial turmoil to purge its workforce of scores of female employees to save the jobs of less-qualified men.” This lawsuit took aim at what it called “recessionary discrimination.”
Many employers believe in the importance of dress and grooming standards for their employees. For example, a California ski resort stresses a “clean and neat appearance” of employees in its grooming standards. Such reasonable requirements are lawful. But some employers take dress and grooming standards too far, sparking employee resentment and lawsuits for unlawful discrimination.