According to the California Legislature, full-time working women in California lose over $33 billion every year as a result of gender wage disparities. That’s not a misprint — the precise estimate was $33,650,294,544. Nationally, the average gender wage gap stands at 79 cents on the dollar, the Census Bureau reports.
This month, an equal pay Senate bill regarding the gender wage differential took effect in California. As reported in the Cal. Legislative Digest relating to Senate Bill No. 358, “in 2014, the gender wage gap in California stood at 16 cents on the dollar. A woman working full time year round earned an average of 84 cents to every dollar a man earned. This wage gap extends across almost all occupations reporting in California… [and] is far worse for women of color.” The new state act to amend existing laws with regard to gender and employment seeks to shrink the pay gap.
SB 358 amends the requirement that men and women must have equal compensation for the exact same job within the same establishment. Instead, individuals of the opposite sex now receive the same rates for substantially similar work regardless of specific establishment/location within a company. Additionally, employers are prohibited from discharging, discriminating, or retaliating against workers for discussing wages.
But why does the gender pay gap issue persist? What steps can be taken to resolve this?
An article in The New York Times noted recently, “the gap cannot be entirely explained by anything economists can measure – workers’ education and experience, the jobs they choose, the hours they work or the time they take off. That leaves other factors that are hard to quantify, like discrimination or women’s perception of the choices available to them.” Potential approaches to bringing change raised in the Times article include publishing people’s salaries, encouraging women to make pay negotiations or banning these negotiations altogether, not having hiring managers look at an employee’s previous salaries, including policy changes for working mothers, having a flexible working environment, and altering federal laws.
Unfortunately, according to an article published January 19 in Fortune, women are going to face “even bigger employment challenges in the coming years.” The magazine observes that technology driven shifts in the global economy will disrupt over 7 million jobs by 2020, and “[t]he net decline in employment will disproportionally hurt women.” While the decline is expected to hit men and women in fairly equal measure “the losses will hit women hardest since they make up a smaller share of total employment.”
Contact Lieff Cabraser Employment Attorneys
Lieff Cabraser has a strong tradition of fighting for employee rights across America. Our employment law class action cases challenge discrimination based on employees’ race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability; wage violations, including failure to pay overtime, break time, or vacation time; and misuse of employees’ retirement benefits.
We also represent employees who “blow the whistle” on wrongdoing by their employers as well as in other cases alleging violations of the law. We represented technical, creative, and other salaried employees in a ground-breaking, successful class action against Apple, Google, Intel, and other prominent Silicon Valley companies that challenged practices suppressing the pay of technical, creative, and other salaried employees and resulted in an unprecedented $435 million settlement for the affected workers.
You can learn more about our Employment Law practice or contact a Lieff Cabraser employee rights attorney for a free, no-obligation review of your potential case.