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What does “substantially similar work” mean?

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2022 | Employment Law

The purpose of the California Equal Pay Act sounds simple on its face: equal pay for equal work. The Act states that your employer cannot pay you less money than a co-worker of another sex when you are both performing substantially similar work.

If you are getting paid less than a co-worker, but feel you are doing the same job, you may question exactly what substantially similar work means. California law defines substantially similar work as work of equal skill, effort and responsibility that is performed under similar working conditions.

It is not based on job title or position

Discrimination claims are often based on the specific facts of each situation. With definitions like these, it can be difficult to determine if you have a valid claim for discrimination or not.

You do not have to have the same job title or position to be performing substantially similar work. You still have a valid discrimination claim under the Act if you have a different job title from your co-worker.

Five factors

Rather, what you must examine is the specific work you are doing. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission looks at these five factors when deciding if jobs are substantially similar:

  • Effort
  • Responsibility
  • Skill
  • Working conditions

Jobs requiring the same amount of physical and mental effort, with the same degree of responsibility under the same working conditions are likely considered substantially similar.

The skill required refers to the skill for the job, not the unique skills of you and your co-workers. If you need a certain type of skill to perform your job and both of you have it, the work is probably substantially similar.

Establishment is the final factor. Your jobs must be within the same establishment, which usually means the same physical place of business.

Establishing your claim

Employment attorneys are experienced with gathering facts, obtaining evidence and performing a thorough analysis of a situation. Discrimination is not only illegal, but it is unethical. If you feel you are a victim of discrimination, learning about your options can be helpful.