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California Passes Historic Equal Pay Law

Emanuel Shirazi

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a gender wage equality law that gives women new tools to protect them from being paid unfairly because of their gender. The law had bipartisan support and is one of the strongest in the nation.

California is leading the way when it comes to addressing and tackling the gender wage inequality problem that plagues women in the United States. According to a study done in 2013, women employed full time in California were paid 84 cents for every dollar that their male counterpart earned. The gap was even greater for minority women.

Now that more and more families rely on a woman’s income, income equality is essential to having a prosperous economy. It is estimated that the gap in California alone causes families to miss out on an additional $33.6 billion a year, money that would then be pumped back into local business and economy.

As of late, high-profile actresses such as Patricia Arquette have been voicing their feelings on the matter, which is said to have influenced California lawmakers.  For example, Arquette used her Oscar moment to stir controversy with her equal-pay remarks, “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

Some effects of the new law are:

  1. Puts the burden on the employer to prove that a male’s salary is higher due to seniority or merit.
  2. If a woman believes she is being paid unfairly because of her gender, she can question her employer without fear of repercussion/retaliation.
  3. Encourages women to inquire if they are being paid unfairly.
  4. Opens the door for other states to follow suit.

Do you think wage inequality is intentional by employers?  Or do you think wage inequality has more to do with outside factors not having to do with discrimination?

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