CA equal pay bill nears passage

money budgetWithout any significant opposition in Sacramento, a bill that would make California the toughest in the nation on gender-equitable pay is poised to clear its final vote in the Assembly and, with Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, become law.

Broad support

Gathering steam since its introduction in February, Senate Bill 358, introduced by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, passed the Legislature’s higher chamber in May. Notably, the bill sailed through with all but unanimous bipartisan support (one Democrat did not vote). What’s more, as the Fresno Bee observed, the state Chamber of Commerce threw its weight behind the bill “partly because gray areas in existing law are confusing and costly for employers.”

Nevertheless, as the Bee reported, SB358 — known as the California Fair Pay Act — didn’t just tidy up uncertainties in the law. In addition to prohibiting retaliation against workers who share details about their salaries, “it requires employers to prove that wage differences are due to legitimate business necessity, such as superior education or experience, and not gender-driven.”


In a distinctly Californian touch, the bill was introduced two days after actress Patricia Arquette delivered a much-discussed call for wage equality during her Oscar acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, as CBS Los Angeles noted. “We know that janitors, because they tend to be male occupations, tend to get paid more than that housekeeper,” said Jackson on the bill’s debut. “The question becomes, is that work more valuable? And if you look at the differences between that work, the answer is likely to be no, it isn’t more valuable.”


Crafting consensus

As the bill began to make its way through committee in the state Senate, supporters gained momentum even as a Silicon Valley plaintiff lost a high-profile wage lawsuit and related reforms at the federal level failed. SB358 arrived less than half a year after then-junior investment partner Ellen Pao “lost her three-year battle with Silicon Valley’s most prestigious venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins,” the San Jose Mercury News recalled.

“A growing debate and frustration over the gender pay gap has taken center stage in the Bay Area, and especially Silicon Valley, after recent legal battles have exposed how difficult it can be for women who challenge their male bosses for fair pay.”

Meanwhile, at the federal level, the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced two years ago by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., received its third and final setback at the hands of Senate Republicans concerned its language would “cause women to lose their jobs,” as the Guardian reported. To head off that criticism, Jackson announced that California business interests would not harbor similar fears as SB358 went forward. “We are working closely with the California Chamber of Commerce to refine the California Fair Pay Act,” she said, according to the Guardian.

In one example of a compromise, employers were not required by the bill to disclose salary information to employees trying to negotiate a raise. “If I’m an employee, and I think you are making more than I am, but I am working as hard as you, probably the same education as you and same experience, I can go to you and say, would you tell me what you are making? You have the right to say no,” Jackson told KXTV-Sacramento.

The softer touch appeared to be enough to shift California’s Republicans and its business lobby over to Jackson’s side. “While the new law won’t force disclosure of men’s salaries, supporters of the measure hope it will begin to change the ‘culture of secrecy’ in the private sector about salaries. The Equal Pay Act attempts to root out not just intentional gender discrimination in the workplace, but subconscious discrimination,” the Mercury News noted.


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  1. skep41
    skep41 25 August, 2015, 09:49

    “We know that janitors, because they tend to be male occupations, tend to get paid more than that housekeeper,” said Jackson on the bill’s debut. “The question becomes, is that work more valuable? And if you look at the differences between that work, the answer is likely to be no, it isn’t more valuable.”

    Thank Gaia we have geniuses like this looking out for Unfairness! It makes sense that the gubmint should be in total control of all salaries, with Fairness in mind of course. In a booming economy like California’s, with companies begging and pleading for unskilled and semi-skilled workers, now is the time to stand up and say “Be FAIR Evil Capitalist Parasites!” It’s not like there’s a vast pool of undocumented foreigners wandering around eager to work for cash. This bill is a boon to all!

    Reply this comment
  2. Dude
    Dude 25 August, 2015, 09:57

    And next on the docket is a vote to insist the sun rises every day. Man, replacing these idiots is way overdue.

    Reply this comment
  3. Charlie Bean
    Charlie Bean 25 August, 2015, 09:58

    Unfairness, equal pay? Let’s hope this applies to those who work as Care Providers under the State’s In-Home Supportive Services program. Here you have nearly 500K individuals caring for disabled and elderly individuals in their homes and not in nursing care homes that cost twice to three times as much only receiving minimum to barely above minimum.

    The State seems to always find a way to leave this population of workers out of he picture for overtime, improved pay and benefits – the unions talk big and give little!

    Reply this comment
    • Dude
      Dude 25 August, 2015, 11:02

      Most of those “workers” are family members of the one they’re taking care of. Which greedy union boss got that con thru the system???

      Reply this comment
  4. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 25 August, 2015, 10:26

    The first two areas this wonderful new law should be applied:

    1. Actor pay. Make sure all leading ladies (gasp!!) are paid the same as the top male actors. Granted, Matt Damon and George Clooney sell more theatre tickets because of who they are (male actors). And granted, that would be the end of the movie business in California. But this is a matter of FAIRNESS, not economics.

    2. All female basketball players need to be paid the same as male players. Well, have the same pot of money to divvy up among the female teammates as NBA teams have to divvy up among the males. The fact that this policy would cause all women teams to immediately leave the Golden State should not be a factor — this is a matter of FAIRNESS, not economics.

    Reply this comment
  5. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 25 August, 2015, 10:34

    California already has what is arguably the worst anti-business litigation climate of the 50 states (see below). This bill will open the door to “prove it” lawsuits whenever a man is paid more than a woman. Presumably this “prove it” law will work both ways — men can sue whenever a woman gets paid more. Another bonanza for the Extortion Guild.

    Businesses will find this law to be a great incentive — to abandon the Golden State.

    FACT: The American Tort Reform Foundation ranks CA the “worst state judicial hellhole” in U.S. – the most anti-business. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks CA a bit better – “only” the 4th worst state (unfortunately, sliding from 7th worst in 2008).

    Reply this comment
  6. dc1
    dc1 25 August, 2015, 11:22

    Pay should be based on productivity and risk, nothing else that I can think of. Not sure this law adds anything other than complexity for employers and bounty for lawyers.

    Reply this comment
  7. Terry
    Terry 25 August, 2015, 13:14

    How about the state, county and city workers???? Does this law apply to them or are they exempt?
    More communist boondoggle mess.

    Reply this comment
  8. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 25 August, 2015, 17:31

    Years ago if you were “promoted” to HR department you were skidding down the corporate ladder…..dull, boring uneventful, bean counter tedium.

    Today….a hell hole of tension, bitterness, heart burn, sleepless nights!

    Reply this comment
  9. desmond
    desmond 26 August, 2015, 04:40

    These will be a field day for legislative staffers in Sac.. They see first hand the immorality of the elected feces. The staffers will go for the gold, blackmail, alarm chasing attorneys, machismo driven sexist pols. Should make for great fun. Also, the claims of the different sexual classes in Cal gov’t, reallyqueer, likeitinanyhole, don’f’inknow, Cool.

    Reply this comment
  10. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 26 August, 2015, 17:46

    The law will be vague, so claimants can fish through endless discoveries, prior sensitive corporate mgmt stuff, private financial records, gazillions of company correspondences, emails, etc. Cases will drag on for years. Anxiety continually…..sexual harrassment, discrimination, unequal pay, payroll/labor law issues, sexual orientation variants.

    Who in heck can figure all this stuff out.

    Reply this comment
  11. desmond
    desmond 26 August, 2015, 19:02

    More preferences, noknownoption, pomeranianneutral, cutitoff, ieatanything.

    Reply this comment
  12. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 27 August, 2015, 08:30

    Given that the University of California (i.e. the State of California) now OFFICIALLY recognizes 6 genders, yup that’s right, SIX SEPARATE GENDERS, this could get really sporty. Take away: be REALLY nice to your tranny employees….

    Reply this comment
  13. eck
    eck 31 August, 2015, 19:43

    “Without any significant opposition in Sacramento….” says it all. There is no Republican party in CA anymore. They can’t get the guts to oppose this idiotic, idea of the leftists, that you can impose by fiat what is logically absurd. It’s ultra socialist in that it’s anti-market. The idea that some bureaucrat/lawyer/judge can determine what someone is worth is completely asinine. This has truly become the “Peoples Republic” of CA, sigh.

    Reply this comment
  14. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 3 September, 2015, 17:04

    I suspect that the fact that people in one job (housekeepers) get some tips while people in the other job (janitor) do not will not be figured into this wage-fixing scheme.

    Reply this comment

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