California Senators unanimously approve equal-pay measure

California Senators unanimously approve equal-pay measure

California lawmakers on Monday unanimously approved equal-pay measure that would prohibit employers from paying differing wages to employees who do substantially similar work.

The bill passed the California Senate with a 40-0 vote. Last week, members of the state Assembly approved it with a 76-2 vote. The measure is now heading to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has already indicated that he will sign it into law.

It would prohibit employers from paying differing wages to employees doing similar work as well as retaliation against any worker who inquire about his/her colleagues’ salaries. It would also allow employees to challenge salary based on the rate that other employees of the same company get at different locations.

In addition, it would require all employers to show that they base workers’ salaries on factors other than gender. Thus employers would have to ensure equal salaries for female workers.

Jennifer Barrera, a policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the measure, and said he didn’t think it would increase litigation as many claimed.

Commenting on the bill, Barrera said, “We don’t think this is going to increase litigation, we think it is going to provide an objective criteria where you can have legitimate wage differentials. The bill specifies a legitimate basis upon which an employer can have a wage differential, and emphasizes that it cannot be based upon gender.”

Some states like Illinois and Colorado already have laws that prohibit retaliation against employees who make salary-related inquiries. But supporters of the California bill claim that the bill would go further than other states and current federal law to ensure equal pay for equal work.

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