Bridging the gap

California makes strides in pay equality among men and women

It’s long been proven that male employees earn more than female employees in the American job force. That is certainly true in California, where in 2013, women made 84 cents for every dollar a man in a comparable position took home. Finally, we’re doing something about it. On Tuesday (Oct. 6), Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 358, requiring that businesses in this state pay equal rates to men and women who perform essentially the same job.

The biggest change this makes in current law, which already requires workers in the same job at the same company to take home the same pay, is that now employees in “substantially similar” positions must be valued the same. So, that may apply to a busboy and a female dishwasher working at a downtown restaurant or a female grocery clerk at Raley’s on the Skyway and a male clerk with similar experience at the Raley’s on East Avenue. So long as the two employees do roughly the same amount of work and the job requires about the same credentials, they should be treated the same, SB 358 says. It also bans retaliation against employees for talking about how much they earn.

This is a coup for California, which now claims the strongest wage equality law in the country, according to Brown. Naysayers argue that it will push businesses out of the state and that it will trigger a slew of lawsuits. We say bring on the lawsuits. Those with merit will prevail; the frivolous ones will fail. If businesses are so threatened by the new requirement of making women equal in the workplace, they probably don’t belong in California in the first place.

It’s about time we took steps to stop the prejudice among American businesses to pay men more than women for doing the same work. Kudos, California.