byFairygodbosson Oct 10, 2015

How CA's Equal Pay Act Helps Women

Signing of the Equal Pay Act

Photo credit:The U.S. National Archives / Foter.com

A few days ago, California passed the California Fair Pay Act, which has been described as the country's toughest law in the nation when it comes to eliminating the pay gap between men and women. Effective January 1, 2016, the state's employer's and employment lawyers are already anticipating an increase in the amount of litigation in the new year. 

Since President Kennedy signed the federal Equal Pay Act in 1963, it's been illegal to pay men and women differently for the same work in America. However, the legal fine print put most of the the burden of proof on employees claiming discrimination.

Under California's latest law, employees who do "substantially similar" (rather than "identical") work must be paid equally and different titles or work-site locations are no defense.

Women are also explicitly protected from retaliation by employers for making salary inquiries of their co-workers, which is a new protection. 

All of this means greater protections for women, and as Harvard economist, Claudia Goldin, put it in a New Yorker analysis of the new law, "You're working in a world of more information...and that's got to be better."


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