California Legislative Women's Caucus Announces Action on Equal Pay

Democratic members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus announced plans for legislation to address the wage gap that women face at work. The chair of the Women’s Caucus, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) introduced Senate Bill 358, the California Fair Pay Act, which will strengthen California’s equal pay laws to ensure that women are paid equally for work that is comparable to their male colleagues and do not face retaliation if they discuss or ask about pay at work.

It comes just days after actress Patricia Arquette called for equal pay for women in her acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, which helped shine a national spotlight on the issue of women, wage inequality, and work.

Women continue to make less than men for doing similar work. In 2013, a woman in California working full time made a median 84 cents to every dollar a man earned, according to Equal Rights Advocates, a national civil rights organization based in San Francisco. This gap is significantly greater for women of color. Latinas in California make only 44 cents for every dollar a white man makes, the most significant Latina wage gap in the nation. As a group, women who are employed full time in California lose approximately $33,650,294,544 every year due to the wage gap.

“This legislation has been in the works for a number of months, but after actress Patricia Arquette helped raise the visibility of this issue, I knew now was the time to formally announce plans to pursue legislation,” said Jackson. “Equal pay for equal work is long overdue. The time is now. It isn’t just the right thing for California women. It’s also the right thing for our economy and for California. We can’t simply ask women to ‘Lean In’ if we aren’t also giving them the legal protections to ‘Lean On.’”

“Equal pay for equal work is economic justice and basic common sense. It is also long overdue,” said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. “California is facing worker shortages in key sectors of our economy and we have to do everything we can to get more women working in these fields, particularly our vital technology industry. I’m proud the Legislative Women’s Caucus will be taking a leading role in continuing this important fight.”

“We know that women across our state and across the nation wear may different hats,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), who is vice-chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus.“Sadly, the more hats you wear, the more disparities you experience. If you are a woman, you get paid less, if you are Latina, even less. If you are a mother, even less. We should be applauding and supporting the work of women and their diversity.”

“Women working full-time in our state only earn 84 cents to every dollar earned by a man and California Latinas are doing far worse, making only 44 cents on the dollar,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who serves as Chairwoman of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace. “At some point, we have to stop asking for more and instead demand it. That time has come."

“Equal pay for equal work should be a no brainer. Fair pay is good for women, their households, and the California economy. But California has the worst Latina gender wage in the country and women overall are losing billions of dollars each year. Equal Rights Advocates strongly supports the California Fair Pay Act introduced by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, which will strengthen protections against pay discrimination and ensure protection for workers who make inquiries about pay. It is about fairness and it is about time, ” said Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates.

The California Legislative Women’s Caucus is a bipartisan group of female legislators who advocate on behalf of women, children and families in California.