Brown signed it into law in symbolic surroundings: The Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park, where women filled wartime labor shortages in the Kaiser Shipyards.
“Equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender, shouldn’t be an issue in California”, said CalChamber president and CEO Allan Zaremberg in a statement. “The inequities that have plagued our state and have burdened women forever are slowly being resolved”, he said.
The law is being touted as the strongest in the country and will require employers to pay men and women the same for “substantially similar work” unless there are differences based on productivity, merit and seniority.
Female workers in California will get new tools to challenge gender-based wage gaps under legislation signed into law Tuesday that supporters say offers the strongest equal-pay protection in the nation.
Companies will not have to make public how much each employee earns, but will be subject to harsher penalties if they retaliate or discriminate against individuals who ask or share this information. The bill creates a new cause of legal action for retaliation against workers seeking fair pay.
On the other hand, few businesses (other than lawyers, of course) would welcome the prospect of having to fight scores of court battles to justify their remuneration policies, or having courts define the monetary value of different jobs for them. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), bans employers in the state from paying an employee a wage that is lower than the rates that an employee of the opposite sex doing the same work receives. “Every job I’ve had if I’m replaced by a man, he makes more money than me”, she said.
Thestudyestimated that wage discrimination in California deprives women of more than $39 billion a year. “This bill is another step toward closing the persistent wage gap between men and women”.
In addition to Arquette’s plea, lawyer Ellen Pao made national waves when she filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against a prestigious venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. A July poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found 79 percent of California residents agree global warming is either a very serious or somewhat serious threat to quality of life.
Last year, the Seattle City Council launched its own citywide effort to work toward pay equity.
“From goldminers to ship fitters to law professors, and you find that, unfortunately, the experience reflects the statistics that women are suffering from unequal pay, from being paid less than men in every single occupation”, said Jennifer Reisch, equal rights advocate.
“California is often known for leading the way and I feel that today we are embarking on a new chapter of focusing attention on why women need to be paid equally to men”, she said.