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Recently, the California Senate unanimously passed the California Fair Pay Bill that contains the toughest attempt at closing the gender wage gap between men and women in the entire country. Once Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill into law, it will be a big win for women facing wage discrimination in the California workplace.

The California Fair Pay Act would go further than the long-established federal Equal Pay Act with its provisions, “similar work” and anti-retaliation measures.

california-fair-pay-act-passes-senate-closes-gender-wage-gap.jpg

Recently, the California Senate unanimously passed the California Fair Pay Bill that contains the toughest attempt at closing the gender wage gap between men and women in the entire country. Once Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill into law, it will be a big win for women facing wage discrimination in the California workplace.

The California Fair Pay Act would go further than the long-established federal Equal Pay Act with its provisions, “similar work” and anti-retaliation measures.

Fair Pay Bill Passes, Awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s Signature

The California Fair Pay Act closes loopholes that prevented enforcement of existing anti-discrimination law and ensures that employees who perform “substantially similar” work will receive equal pay – regardless of their gender. This means that even if job titles are different amongst workers or if they work in separate offices and under the same employer, women and men will still receive equal pay.

California workers will also be protected so that they can safely discuss their co-workers’ wages without fear of employer retaliation.

This also means that California workers like Aileen Rizo, a Fresno County Office of Education math consultant, will have her employee rights heard loud and clear. Back in 2012, Rizo found out that her male colleague, who did the same work as she did, made $12,000 more each year – even though she was hired four years prior. Rizo traveled to the state Capitol numerous times to advocate for the Fair Pay Act.

Fair Pay Act author, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), cited that in 2014, female workers in California earned 84 cents to every dollar men earned, on average. This wage gap is even more substantial for women of color. For example, Latinas in California make 44 cents for every dollar that white males make – the largest gap for Latinas in the nation.

Law experts say that the bill has been noted as the strongest equal pay act in the nation with its provisions, “similar work” and anti-retaliation measures.

Some critics say the law doesn’t go far enough, however. For example, the California chapter of the National Organization for Women opposed the bill unless it was amended to include the LGBT community, disabled people and others who are excluded based on their race or ethnicity. It also doesn’t specify provisions for men of color who also face workplace discrimination when it comes to equal pay.

“It’s been a long march to try to get laws that are strong enough that would actually close the gender wage gap in this country,” said Noreen Farrell, executive director of civil rights organization Equal Rights Advocates, a co-sponsor of the bill. “We have been envisioning what would be the strongest state law for equal pay in the nation for some time, and this is it.”

Brown aide Nancy McFadden said via Twitter that California’s governor “will sign CA Fair Pay Act when it reaches his desk.”

Read more on LATimes.com: California equal pay bill may be toughest in nation

Additional Fair Pay Act Information:

  • SB 358 California Fair Pay Act Fact Sheet via CELA.org
  • 4 things workers should know about the California Fair Pay Act via LATimes.com
  • New California Law is a Big Step Forward for Working Women via Think Progress
  • California Lawmakers Pass Toughest U.S. Law Requiring Equal Pay via Bloomberg

If your employer is subjecting you to wage discrimination, gender discrimination or retaliation in California, know that federal and state lawscan protect your employee rights. Contact the expert California employment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz for your free consultation today.