Hastings Law Journal


California passed its Fair Employment Practices Act in 1959, five years before the enactment of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although title VII was originally the broader law, substantive amendments to the state Act, coupled with progressive procedural changes expanding the power of the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, have caused the state system to fill gaps that developed under the federal scheme. This Article outlines the history of the federal and California fair employment laws, and contrasts the substantive coverage of these laws, the administrative procedures that they utilize, and the relief that they make available. The Article compares the differing approaches taken under the federal and California legislation by the courts and agencies considering employment discrimination claims and defenses, focusing on the substantive areas of comparable worth and compensation discrimination, discrimination based on marital status, and discrimination based on medical condition and physical handicap. The Article concludes that, while the analytical underpinnings of both the federal and California laws are similar, the California law provides broader substantive protection and greater procedural access to plaintiffs than does the federal law.

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