Governor Jerry Brown just signed the Fair Pay Act, a law intended to ensure equal pay for equal work in the workplace.
History was made this Tuesday in California as Governor Jerry Brown signed the Fair Pay Act into law. The new measure will give employees more grounds for challenging perceived discrimination and is meant to ensure that women receive the same pay as men for equal work.
Said Governor Brown at a ceremony in Richmond:
“The inequities that have plagued our state and have burdened women forever are slowly being resolved with this kind of bill.”
The California Chamber of Commerce supports the law, as do most Republican lawmakers.
The Los Angeles Times reports that women in California who work full time earn substantially less than men – an average 84 cents for every dollar (according to a U.S. Census Bureau). And the pay discrepancy between men and women is not uncommon: According to the Center for American Progress, the average American woman will lose out on about $431,000 as the result of the wage gap over the course of a 40-year career.
The Take Away shares that the issue starts quite early in a woman’s career, as most employers base a woman’s salary on what she made at her previous job. For this reason, the law’s importance cannot be overstated.
As the government site shares, current laws already in pace prohibit employers from paying a woman less than a man when they are both doing equal work at the same establishment. But as of Tuesday, California will now require equal pay – regardless of gender – for “substantially similar work.”
“Today is a momentous day for California, and it is long overdue. Equal pay isn’t just the right thing for women, it’s the right thing for our economy and for California,” said Senator Jackson, chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. “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. That money could be flowing into families’ pocketbooks, into our businesses and our economy. After years of dealing with a persistent wage gap, and an equal pay law that has been on the books since 1949 but that is not as strong as it should be, the time is now for women’s paychecks to finally reflect their hard work and true value.”
Once the law goes into effect January 1st, businesses say they expect more lawsuits.
But as activist Aileen Rizo points out, companies are spending an incredible amount on litigation when they could have just “made it right to begin with.” If action is taken before lawsuits arise, the pay gap between men and women could be remedied before things get messy in court.
As many know, once legislation passes in California, similar is almost guaranteed to be carried out in other states. This positive news, then, hints at a future where workplace equality is the norm and both men and women are paid equally for equal work.
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