Fight for equal wages


The California State Legislature just passed a new wage equity law and it is one of the strictest in America. The California Fair Pay Act prohibits employers from paying different wages to men and women for similar work.

The National Law Review explained the rules regarding equal employment.

“An employer shall not pay any of its employees at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions,” The National Law Review stated.

This means that if the jobs under the employer are equal in almost every aspect, then the pay must be equal too.

This bill addresses the gender wage gap that exists across the country that leaves women financially disadvantaged because of their sex. In 2014, women working full-time in California made an average of 84 cents to each dollar that men made, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. The gap is even higher for women of color and the worst in the nation for Latina women, who make only 44 cents on the white man’s dollar.

Part of the problem is that previous legislation only mandated that women be paid equally for the same jobs so the same labor under a different title was not required to be paid equally. State Senator Jackson, the author of the bill, frequently used the example of a female hotel maid who is paid less than a male hotel janitor for the same work. Under the old law the employer could get away with this discrimination because the job titles are different.

Now, employers have to pay men and women equally for similar work and can only pay these employees different wages under a few conditions. A wage gap between employees of the opposite sex can only exist if there is seniority system, a merit system, or a commission system among other reasons.

Junior Sophia Gaffney, has been studying women’s issues within her sociology major and was excited to hear about the passing of this bill.

“As a firm believer in equal rights between genders this makes me extremely happy to hear,” Gaffney said. “Women have been fighting for decades for their equality and it’s nice to see that within the workforce it is paying off.”

She added that she is more likely to stay in California after graduation because of this guaranteed pay equality.

“It definitely makes me want to stay within California to work since I’ll have the security of knowing that I won’t be economically discriminated against for my gender,” Gaffney said.

Once the law takes effect on Jan. 1 of next year, businesses are expecting to have more lawsuits brought up by female employees. And with the revisions this law brings, women may have a better chance of winning their case.