California Equal Pay Act Introduced by Female Democrats

Inspired by the Academy Awards acceptance speech of actress Patricia Arquette, a group of female Democrat lawmakers are introducing a bill that would help women workers earn the same paycheck as men for the same work.eye1

The measure, SB 358, is sponsored by the Democratic members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and would strengthen protections against pay discrimination and retaliation against workers who ask about pay.

Sponsors of the bill called it “long overdue.” Equal Rights Advocates conducted a study in 2013 that found companies in California pay women 84 cents for every dollar earned by a man. That gap is even wider for Latina women, who earn 44 cents to every dollar white men make.

Similar findings were established at the national level as well, according to a recent report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The non-profit institute reported women’s paychecks won’t reach parity with those of men until sometime around 2060. It could be much longer for those in some states, like Louisiana and Wyoming.

Although the pay gap has narrowed sharply since the 1980s and 1990s, women still made about 78 cents on the dollar as compared to men. That’s compared to the 60 cents on the dollar they earned compared to men in 1980.

Still, in the last 15 years, wage equality progression has almost ceased entirely. Median wages for women have remained about the same, but participation by women in the labor force fell from about 60 percent in 2002 down to 57 percent last year. That’s according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The good news in California is that it is projected to be the second to close the gender disparity pay gap in 2042 – right after Florida, which is expected to do so by 2038.

However, Hispanic women may have farther to go, with the average Hispanic female earning just $28,000 annually.

It’s true that women have now outpaced men in terms of college enrollment, and we know people who earn a bachelor’s degree generally earn double what those with less than a high school diploma earn. However, men with equal school still earn much more than their female peers. Females with graduate degrees only earn about 69 percent of what their similarly-educated male peers earn. Essentially, women need more education than men in order to secure well-paying positions, researchers concluded.

Some have touted the fact that female millenial workers have a much narrower pay gap, earning about 86 cents for every dollar their male peers take home. Plus, 1 in 3 women in this age group work in some type of professional or managerial post, as compared with 1 in 4 of their male colleagues. But this omits an important fact, which is that these women have yet to reach their peak childbearing years. Motherhood is often cited as a catalyst for pay disparities between men and women.

Another recent report from the journal of the American Medical Association indicated the salary gaps between male and female nurses remains largely disparate. As our gender discrimination attorneys understand it, the researchers analyzed two large pay scale data sets covering about 300,000 nurses between 1988 and 2008. What they found was that men consistently earned more than their female peers, ranging from a gap of about $10,250 to $11,300. When adjusted for experience, education, work hours, marital and parental status and clinical specialty, the difference was still about $5,000 annually.

Recently in Iowa, female workers were granted the right to proceed with a wage discrimination lawsuit against their employer, whom they alleged paid them less than men for similar work over the last several years. The litigation cites violations of federal and state laws, including the state’s equal pay act, passed in 2009, and civil rights act, passed in 1965. Although some of those claims go as far back as 2000, justices with the Iowa Supreme Court recently ruled plaintiffs would be limited to damages solely from the last two years.  They ruled the state’s equal pay act could not be applied retroactively.

Workers who are discriminated against on the basis of gender should seek counsel from an experienced employment attorney.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.

Additional Resources:

At this rate, American women won’t get equal pay until 2058, March 16, 2015, By Danielle Paquette, The Washington Post

More Blog Entries:

Dickson v. Burke Williams, Inc. – Failure to Prevent Harassment Alleged by Spa Worker, March 18, 2015, Orange County Gender Discrimination Lawyer Blog

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