California Governor Jerry Brown has indicated that he will sign a bill to provide female employees with more tools to enforce equal pay in the workplace.
The new legislation places a new burden of proof on employers in discrimination lawsuits to show that their male counterparts are receiving higher pay based on factors other than gender, such as seniority or merit.
According to the Associated Press, this bill “won’t suddenly put all women’s salaries on par with men’s or prod employers to freely disclose what every employee makes, which could make it easier for workers to mount pay discrimination claims.” The bill essentially broadens an existing California law that requires equal pay for individuals doing the exact same job.
The legislation would also prevent retaliation against employees by their employers when a female asks how much her counterparts earn, making California one of a several states to prohibit this, according to Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the AP notes.
Supporters of the bill have reportedly cited studies showing that on average, full-time female workers in California earn 84 cents for every dollar that a man makes, losing out on roughly $33 billion a year. Yet those numbers do not tell the whole story. The AP notes that “women as a group earn less than men for a variety of reasons–because they may have taken time out to raise children or they’re overrepresented in lower-paying jobs or perhaps they weren’t as aggressive as their male counterparts in seeking a raise.”
Forbes outlines several U.S. cities in which women make more than men. (The percentage indicates women’s income compared to their male counterparts’ salaries):
1. Inglewood, California (120.6%)
2. Trenton, New Jersey (118.2%)
3. Orlando, Florida (113.3%)
4. Albany, New York (111.3%)
5. Carson, California (109.3%)
6. Hollywood, Florida (109.0%
7. Oakland, California (108.8%)
8. Elk Grove, California (105.9%)
9. Hayward, California (104.5%)
10. Miramar, Florida (104.1%)
11. Yakima, Washington (103.2%)
12. Birmingham, Alabama (102.3%)
13. Wilmington, North Carolina (102.2%)
14. Escondido, California (101.5%)
15. Las Cruces, New Mexico (101.1%)
16. Deltona, Florida (100.9%)
17. South Gate, California (100.8%)
18. Dallas, Texas (100.5%)
19. Richmond, California (100.3%)
20. Silver Spring, Maryland (100.3%)
21. Chattanooga, Tennessee (100.3%)
22. West Palm Beach, Florida (100.2%)
Women can reportedly begin filing new expanded claims in court or through the state labor commissioner’s office starting Jan. 1, 2017, according to the new law.
Critics of the bill argue that it will do little to help women, while making female employees a riskier bet for employers.