Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) is working with the Women’s Foundation of California to complete the nation’s toughest anti-discrimination law.
Women Push For New Equal Pay Bill in CA
Battle lines are drawn
California women earn only 84 cents to every dollar earned by a man, resulting in the average woman losing $322,122 over her working life. As co-breadwinners in 60% of CA families and sole breadwinners of many single-parent families, these women are not earning their rightful share. The pay gap is even worse for women of color. Black women earn only 63 cents to the dollar earned by white men. California Latinas have the worst pay gap in the nation—just 43 cents for every dollar earned by white men.
But now, working with a grant partner, Women’s Foundation of California, civil rights attorney Noreen Farrell intends to bring this gender-pay gap to a screeching halt.
Pay secrecy makes discrimination easy
The biggest barrier to closing the gender gap has been that employees are discouraged and even penalized for sharing information about their salaries. Employees therefore remain ignorant of salary inequities, which means that employers aren’t held accountable.
In 2015, ERA and Ms. Farrell decided to attack the tradition of pay secrecy with the California Fair Pay Act, Senate Bill 358, which forbids companies from retaliating against employees who ask about co-worker wages. It requires companies to prove that wage differences are caused by factors other than gender. They also must justify any pay disparities between male and female workers who do “substantially similar” work, regardless of job titles.
2016 goal: Pay Equity in the Workplace Act
This bill, Assembly Bill 1676, would prohibit employers from asking job applicants for their salary history. This will result in salary negotiations limited to the requirements, work expectations, and qualifications of the person and the prospective job, rather than prior earning (which could reflect a history of pay discrimination based on gender).
With the passage of Assembly Bill 1676, California will have the most complete, effective anti-discrimination law on wage discrimination based on gender in the nation. Let’s hear it for California!
This article is based on the July 5, 2016 article of The Women’s Foundation of California, We Want Equal Pay.
For more information:
• womensfoundationof california.org - Basis of article
• nwlc.org - Wage gap, state by state
• leginfo.legislature.ca.gov - Senate Bill 358, forbidding wage secrecy rules
• leginfo.legislature.ca.gov - Assembly Bill 1676 specifying that prior salary cannot justify wage disparity