Women in California are Still Struggling for Equal Pay

Author: Nicki Malekadeli
Posted on: November 25, 2019

Women have always been at a disadvantage due to societal inequalities. They have faced prejudices and discrimination from their own homes to their workplaces. One of the unfairness experienced by women is the unequal salary they get for the same task done by men.

In California, women employees, comprising 41% of its labor force, experience the gender pay gap. A non-partisan advocacy group based in Washington, D.C, the National Partnership for Women & Families, reported that women are paid between 41 to 80 cents for a dollar paid to white men. The racial pay gap heavily influences the range from 41 cents to 80 cents. Thus, women of color struggle more due to unfair salaries.

Women employees have lost $87 billion annually due to this inequality — each woman employee in California loses an estimated $10,169 every year.

Legislative Efforts

California is considered as the top state in fighting for equal pay for women. The state has efforts both from the public and private spheres to narrow the gender and racial pay gap.

In 2016, California passed a law that addresses gender pay inequality in the state. The California Fair Pay Act requires employers to grant women the same pay rate as their male counterparts for similar tasks. The law also forbids the adverse reaction towards women who converse with their colleagues about their pay. There is nothing wrong with conversations about pay rates since they serve as avenues for small steps towards bridging the pay gap.

The next year, amendments were done for the California Equal Pay Act of 1949 (EPA). The EPA prohibits an employer’s reliance on previous salaries to set the pay for the present job. This act of dependence on the last wage propagates the gap. Since women and people of color are paid less than men, relying on prior salaries does not enable a positive path towards correcting this wrongful practice.

In 2018, the EPA was again modified. The amendment includes prohibition for employers to inquire about a prospective employee’s prior salary. A company’s act of questioning an applicant’s previous salary gives justification for possible low pay rates. It enables the continuing pay gap experienced by women.

Also, victims of the gender pay gap can now participate in class-action suits through the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Act is a crucial step in ensuring the abolishment of unfair wages.

Private Entities’ Pledges

The legislative efforts are not enough to completely eradicate the gender pay gap experienced by women employees. Private entities’ cooperation is a must to abolish this unjust practice. It is good news that leaders such as First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom initiates programs that target to give equal wages to all individuals, especially to women and people of color.

These women leaders, in partnership with the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and Time’s Up, call for companies to administer a yearly gender salary analysis. Apart from this progressive analysis, they also ask businesses to evaluate their application and promotion procedures. In this way, companies will be aware of prejudices and deeply-rooted problems that hinder all individuals from receiving equal pay. Most businesses are unconsciously following outdated practices that propagate the gender pay gap. It is their responsibility to abolish these practices to contribute to a fair workplace and society.

The initiative is considered a success since thirteen companies affirmed their pledges to an analysis of the wage gap and review of hiring procedures. Some of these businesses are Apple, California-based Salesforce and Airbnb, and Dallas-based AT&T Communications, Inc.

Continuing Gender-Racial Pay Gap

However, the wage gap persists. According to a report by the National Partnership for Women and Families, businesses in California still allows a wide discrepancy between the salary of white men and the wages of white women. This gap is even more pronounced among women of color.

Detailed figures of this discrepancy show that Latina employees are paid $44,500 less than what white men get paid for the same job, Native Americans are paid $39,000 less, African Americans are paid $31,000 less, Asian Americans struggle with $21,500 wage gap, and white non-Hispanics experience a $15,100 gender pay gap.

The mentioned illustration shows a significant amount of money that can be used for necessities, such as food, shelter, and clothing. It can also be used for recreational activities and savings. However, the wrongful practice of the gender pay gap hinders women from having a fair salary for their jobs.

If you or someone you know is a victim of the persisting gender pay gap, it is advisable to contact an equal pay act attorney in California to help with your possible case. This unjust practice must not be tolerated. An experienced legal counsel will help you fight for the pay you deserve. 

Get in touch with Mesriani Law Group today and know your options.