On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown, intoning, “The inequities that have plagued our state and have burdened women forever are slowly being resolved with this kind of bill,” signed the California Fair Pay Act, which aims to ensure that business pay female employees equally who perform “substantially equivalent work” as males.
Brown said, “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. This bill is another step toward closing the persistent wage gap between men and women,” reported the Washington Times.
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who wrote the bill, lectured, “Now they’re going to have to value the work equally,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The bill jettisons the “same establishment” requirement; meaning a woman can work at a different site and still be paid equally, and also requires men and women to be paid equally even if their titles are different. In addition, the bill forbids retaliation against employees “who disclose, discuss, or inquire about their own or co-workers’ wages for the purpose of enforcing their rights under the CA EPA.”
Employers are now required to prove that they used “factors other than sex” to justify pay differentials.
Criticism of the bill abounded; California Political Review’s Stephen Frank told the Times that the bill would trigger “government control of wages and work,” while Richard A. Epstein, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said the bill was “crazy,” adding that an “administrative quagmire” would result, catalyzing companies to leave the state or reduce their presence there. He concluded, “The asymmetrical outcomes are likely to distort labor markets further, and to give firms a strong incentive to expand their businesses elsewhere and even to transfer existing work out of the state.”
The California Chamber of Commerce ultimately supported the bill.
Brown faced criticism in the 2010 campaign when Republican rival Meg Whitman was called a “whore” during a discussion between Brown and aides that was accidentally recorded.