Written by Kimberly Quitzon, The Circle
On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed The Equal Pay Act (EPA) to grant women the right to earn as much as their male counterparts. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the act “prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women in the same establishment who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions.”
However, women continue to make significantly less than men who do similar work. The California Legislature states women are losing “approximately $33,650,294,544 each year due to the gender wage gap.” To put numbers into better perspective they say, “ a woman working full-time year-round earned an average of 84 cents to every dollar a man earned.”
The great news is, the gender wage gap may finally begin to close. October 6, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown approved the California Pay Act (CA EPA). Although a similar act was passed in 1949, this is said to be “the strongest equal pay law in the nation,” according to the Equal Rights Advocates.
The Equal Rights Advocates, The California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA) and The Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center co-sponsored the act. These organizations recognized the loopholes within the previous act of 1949 and implemented changes to revise them.
An interesting factor in the act is the discouragement of pay secrecy. According to CELA, the act will prohibit “retaliation or discrimination against employees who disclose, discuss, or inquire about their own or co-workers’ wages for the purpose of enforcing their rights under the CA EPA.”
The new act will also revise specific factors that exempt the difference in pay. Therefore, under this act employers must have sufficient proof that the employee is paid less due to factors such as education, training or experience.
Although this act supports equal pay for women, it will benefit all of California. Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson says, the lost money “could be flowing into families’ pocketbooks, into our businesses and our economy.” 2015 is the age of equality and it is about time an act is put into place to help women receive the money they have been working so hard for.