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California Fair Pay Act

The fair pay act was signed in recently and it's being described as the strongest equal pay protection act for women in America. The law states women who do “substantially similar work” to their male counterparts should receive equal pay. They will also have the right to compare their salary with co-workers without fear of retaliation from employers.

What the bill means

The law goes on to say  that if a company headquarters are situated in the state of California, they have to abide by the law, regardless of which state or country each office operates in. This means that employees can bring a lawsuit against the company if a coworker with a similar role is paid more than them, even if the other coworker is based aboard. According to Cristina Garcia, co-author of the Bill, SB 358, and vice-chair of the California Legislative Women's Caucus, the law has been on the books for six decades and she has no doubt that the act will an impact on women's equality in the workplace.

Onus is now on employers 

The Fair Pay Act changes the rules surrounding equal pay from a standard of “equal work” to one of “substantially similar” work, which closes a potential loophole that made it difficult for women to prove pay discrimination. The onus is now on the employers to prove that the difference in wages is due to factors other than gender, which are directly related to their job duties.

This means that, for example, a female security who signs people in and out of the building could legally challenge the higher wages  to their male security guard counterparts. According to Huffington post, on average, women are paid 78 cents for every dollar a man earns nationally. This average is even lower amongst Hispanic and African woman, who make, on average, 54 percent of what white men make. In the state of California, women earn an average of 85 cents on every dollar compared to men.

What are the Consequences

This new  bill has broad consequences for employers and employees alike. The legislature reported that women working in California collectively lose $33.6 billion each year due to the gender wage gap. The intent of the new law is to recoup that loss, an expensive proposition for employers who until now have not paid close attention to gender-based differentials in their pay practices.