Pay gap

California “Fair Pay Act” aimed at protecting women who want to discuss salary

The bill hopes to rectify what Reddit CEO Ellen Pao sought with her failed lawsuit against a former Silicon Valley employer. Photograph: REUTERS/Stephen Lam

A newly proposed state bill would directly shield millions of women in California from being fired, retaliated against or discriminated against if they ask about or discuss their salaries at work, especially if they’re seeking equal pay. The bill, known as the “Fair Pay Act,” is being debated in the labor and industrial relations on Wednesday, and comes on the heels of the gender discrimination case that Ellen Pao brought against her former employer, top Silicon Valley investment firm Kleiner Perkins. “If passed, SB 358 would be the strongest equal pay law in the nation,” said state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, author of the bill. “Women comprise almost half of California’s workforce. Yet across our state, women’s hard work and true value is not reflected in their paychecks.” According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, California women make 84 cents to a man’s dollar — and African-American women earn only a paltry 64 cents to every white man’s dollar. Women already have the ability to sue their employers for gender discrimination in California, but the state protections currently in place are outdated and rarely used, as its many loopholes make it nearly impossible to win a case. Since “pay secrecy” makes reducing the wage gap tricky, it’s important that female employees who do ask about compensation are protected from retaliation. Besides, the bill would also revise current labor laws referring to equal pay for equal work to “work of comparable character” and would eliminate the “same establishment” requirement, which allows employees to compare their pay only with people who work in the same facility or office.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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