Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Fair Pay Act yesterday, one of the toughest equal pay laws in the country. Brown was surrounded by females, young and old, at the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park in Richmond, for the signing ceremony. In a news release, the governor said the law is long overdue: “Sixty-six years after passage of the California Equal Pay Act, many women still earn less money than men doing the same or similar work said Governor Brown. “This bill is another step toward closing the persistent wage gap between men and women.”
In California, women reportedly make on the average 84 cents for every dollar a man earns. Nationally, the average for women is even lower — 78 cents.
In the release, the author of SB 358 State Senator, Hannah-Beth Jackson, (D-Santa Barbara) says everyone will benefit from the law: “Equal pay isn’t just the right thing for women, it’s the right thing for our economy and for California,” said Senator Jackson. “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.”
Current law prohibits employers from paying a woman less than a man when they are both doing equal work at the same company. The new law will require women get paid the same as men for similar work and prevent retaliation if they inquire about how much male colleagues are paid. Forbes has a post on the new law and the inequity in salaries in Hollywood.
The new law takes effect on January 1, 2016.