$1.8 M Settlement for Allegations of “Steering”

steering, lawsuitA “steering” allegations settlement has been reached between G&K Services, a company that manufactures branded uniforms and facility products, and the U.S. Department of Labor regarding allegations of gender discrimination. The settlement involves G&K paying over $1.8 million to affected employees at nine locations – including a facility in Sacramento.

A compliance review by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) found that female employees of G&K were allegedly steered into duties that paid less than the duties that were predominantly assigned to male employees. The term “steering” refers to the practice of directing employees toward less desirable jobs based on their membership in a protected class. (When employers are accused of paying workers lower salaries based on factors such as race or gender, they may be found to have engaged in discriminatory practices even if the workers had substantially different job duties – if the employees with lower paying positions were steered toward them based on protected characteristics.)

According to an OFCCP press release, G&K’s hiring practices involved discrimination based on race as well as gender, with the result that 456 African-American job applicants and 111 Caucasian applicants were denied equal opportunity. The OFCCP also determined that G&K’s practice of steering male applicants toward certain positions resulted in a lower hiring rate for male applicants – with 2,327 male applicants affected.

The Steering Allegations Agreement

G&K denied any wrongdoing, but as part of a conciliation agreement will pay $1,813,555 to employees from the affected classes. G&K also agreed to allow 58 female employees the opportunity to assume positions with higher salaries, and to offer 78 positions to rejected applicants.

G&K also agreed to perform “a detailed assessment of its hiring, placement and compensation practices,” and to look into whether documents such as job postings are discriminatory. The settlement also requires G&K to conduct adverse impact and compensation analyses at the nine facilities in which the OFCCP determined that discriminatory practices were taking place – and to share the results of these analyses with the agency.

This is not the first time in recent years that G&K has been found by the OFCCP to have taken part in steering. In 2013, G&K reached a settlement after being accused of steering female employees into lower paying positions at a facility in Santa Fe Springs, California. In that case, the OFCCP determined that female employees were assigned to “light duty” jobs with lower salaries, while only considering male employees for heavy duty work. The OFCCP also determined that male employees were denied opportunities as a result of only being considered for heavy duty positions. [Read more…]

SB 358: Equal Pay for Substantially Similar Work

equal payThe concept of paying men and women equal pay for equal work should be familiar to California employers but under new legislation, wage equality requirements no longer apply only to employees with identical job descriptions. Employers are now required to pay male and female employees equal wages for doing “substantially similar” work.

The legislation in question, California Senate Bill 358, was signed into law on October 6, 2015 by Governor Jerry Brown at the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park in Richmond. The new legislation amends Section 1197.5 of the California Labor Code.

What Does the equal pay Bill Say?

SB 358 states that an employer may not pay any of its employees at lower wage rates than employees of the opposite sex for work that is substantially similar, when viewed “as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions,” unless the employer can demonstrate that:

  • The wage differential is based upon one or more of the following factors: a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, and/or a bona fide factor other than sex (such as education, training or experience.)
  • Each factor is relied upon reasonably, and
  • The factor or factors relied upon account for the entire wage differential.

The legislation clarifies that if an employer cites a “bona fide factor other than sex,” it must not be based on, or derived from, a sex-based differential in compensation. In addition, the factor must be related to the job in question, and it must be consistent with a business necessity.

Other aspects of the legislation include:

  • The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, which is in charge of administering and enforcing the legislation, may supervise the wages that are due to employees when a violation takes place.
  • Employers must maintain records of the wages and wage rates, job classifications, and other terms of employment of their employees. The records must be maintained for at least three years.
  • When an employee files a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the name of the employee will be kept confidential until the Division establishes the validity of the complaint. (There is an exception to this, however, if abridging the employee’s confidentiality prevents the Division from investigating the complaint.) If the employee withdraws the complaint before his or her confidentiality is abridged, then the Division will maintain the employee’s confidentiality.

Your Equal Pay Responsibilities Under the New Law

If you run a business in Sonoma County, Mendocino County or Lake County California, and you have not monitored whether there is a gender gap in your employee’s wages, it is time to start. Consulting an attorney to ensure your wages meet the standards of this legislation may be far less expensive than dealing with a gender discrimination lawsuit. [Read more…]


The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on www.californialaborandemploymentlaw.net or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.