Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Call to Action in Lieu of California’s Fair Pay Act

The gender pay gap is an economically debilitating form of institutionalized sexism that, to this day, permeates the American workforce.  On average, American women earn $.78 for every $1 a white, non-Hispanic man makes.  That being said, however, the gender pay gap for women of color is far worse.  Black and Hispanic women make $.64 and $.54 respectively to every $1 a White, non-Hispanic man earns.  These staggering statistics have severe economic reproductions for women all across the United States.  On average, women who work full time year round will earn $10,876 less in median earnings than their male counterparts.  This gap has a serious impact on the economic security of more than 7.3 million and the state of California decided to take action in
On September 2nd, the California state legislature passed the nation’s most comprehensive piece of equal pay legislation that aims to dramatically decrease the gender pay gap for all women in both the private and public sectors. 
The Fair Pay Act, which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, ensures that male and female employees who perform “substantially similar” work receive equal pay regardless if their job tittles differ or if they work in different offices for the same employer.  The bill also stipulates that employees are permitted to ask about and discuss co-workers’ wages without fear of punishment from employers.  These provisions make the bill the strongest piece of equal pay legislation passed in United States history.

Although California’s Far Pay Act won’t provide the framework in which to close the wage gap in its entirety, the bill is an important first step in seriously reducing the gender pay gap and strengthen the economic status of all types of women.  It’s imperative that other states, including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, pass their own comprehensive equal pay legislation and begin prioritizing women’s economic security in the legislative agenda.
-MWPC Intern Talia Lepson