California’s Fair Pay Act is a ‘Major Advance for Fair Wages for Women’

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families

“We applaud Governor Jerry Brown for signing California’s Fair Pay Act into law this morning at Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park. At a time when a punishing wage gap is costing women precious income and perpetuating poverty for millions of families, this new law is badly needed and a major advance for fair wages for women.

When the Fair Pay Act takes effect, employers in California will have to pay women and men equally for substantially similar work, even if their titles are different or they work in different offices, unless pay differences result from seniority, productivity or merit. Employers will be prohibited from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries, and employees will be able to take action to close wage gaps across worksites, not just at their own locations. This new law makes California a national leader in rooting out the gender-based wage discrimination that costs women and their families so terribly.

The wage gap is a painful reminder that discrimination persists in our workplaces. According to U.S. Census Bureau data released just last month, women who work full time, year round in California are paid, on average, 84 cents for every dollar to men. The national wage gap is even worse, with women paid, on average, just 79 cents for every dollar paid to men, and African American women paid just 60 cents and Latinas just 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. On average, America’s women and their families are losing $10,762 in income to the gender-based wage gap each year.

The wage gap has plagued our country for generations. We urgently need Congress to follow California’s lead by immediately passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. It has been stalled for much too long and women, families, businesses and our economy are suffering as a result. Every member of Congress should understand that failure to support the Paycheck Fairness Act is failure to support fair wages.

We thank Governor Brown for moving quickly to sign this law, the state Senate for passing it unanimously, every Assembly member who voted for it, and the extraordinary advocates who led the successful charge to pass it. California’s workplaces will become more fair because of their actions. The country urgently needs a national law like the one California put in place today.”

About the National Partnership

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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