This New Bill Eliminates The Gender Pay Gap In California

California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed the California Fair Pay Act on Tuesday, which is aimed at eliminating the gender pay gap in California.  Supporters say that the bill is the strongest equal pay law in the nation.

The new bill builds on a previous law. The previous wording of the law required equal wages for “equal” jobs in the same location, which made it easy for employers to justify pay differentials. Also, pay secrecy made it difficult to identify violations. The new law seeks to take care of these loopholes. 

The California Fair Pay Act prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees a wage rate less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex,  not just for equal work or the exact same job title, but for substantially similar work. The bill also gives employees the ability to challenge whether there is discrimination and protects against retaliation against employees who inquire about wages paid to coworkers. An employer sued by a worker would have to show that a difference in wages is not due to gender but is rather job-related and reasonable, due to factors such as merit or seniority, not discrimination.

The measure was introduced by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson in Santa Barbara after a study in 2013 found that women in California working full time made a median 84 cents for every dollar earned by men. Furthermore, Latinas make just 44 cents for every dollar a white man makes, while African American women are paid only 64 cents per dollar earned by white men.

“Equal pay isn’t just the right thing for women, it’s the right thing for our economy and for California,” 

Senator Jackson said. “Families rely on women’s income more than ever before. Because of the wage gap, our state and families are missing out on $33.6 billion dollars a year.”

The legislation was approved unanimously in the state Senate and with only a few dissenters in the Assembly.

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