California lawmakers are currently considering a bill — the Fair Pay Act — that would significantly increase equal pay protections for women. Specifically, the bill would prohibit California employers from firing, retaliating or discriminating against employees who discuss or ask about pay at work, particularly if a woman asks about wages or salaries in order to seek equal pay.
The bill would also revise existing employment laws that use the language “equal pay for equal work.” Rather, the Fair Pay Act would change the language to equal pay for “work of comparable character,” and the Act would do away with the requirement that only employees working in the “same establishment” can compare their pay.
While the bill appears to have strong support in the legislature, critics say that the Fair Pay Act could unintentionally result in employers creating less flexible compensation systems that actually limit women’s ability to balance work and life.
Available statistics are nonetheless telling of a wage gap.
The non-profit National Partnership for Women and Families has gathered data showing that, on average, women are paid 84 cents to every dollar paid to men. Additionally, the civil rights organization Equal Rights Advocates has reported that women who work full-time in California lose $33 billion annually because of the wage gap.
Readers in California will undoubtedly want to follow up on the Fair Pay Act to see if it passes into law.
Workplace policies must be in compliance with state and federal laws regarding wages and hours, retaliation, discrimination, and employment termination. Disputes over these matters can be costly to employers and employees alike. If you find yourself in an employment dispute, then don’t hesitate to seek legal guidance from an employment law attorney.