Stockton Assemblywoman Susan Eggman’s bill aiming to close the gender wage gap has been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, making it illegal for employers to seek the salary history of job applicants.
Women in the U.S. are paid 80 cents for every $1 paid to men, Eggman says. Prohibiting employers from asking for previous salary information could prevent past inequities from being perpetuated.
“Assembly Bill 168 is a needed step to ensure that my 9-year-old daughter, and all women, can be confident that their pay will be based on their abilities and not their gender,” Eggman said in a prepared statement.
The bill by the Stockton democrat also requires employers to share with job applicants the pay scale for a position.
The legislation does not prevent job applicants from voluntarily sharing their past earnings, nor prevent employers from considering that information if indeed it is voluntarily disclosed.
Since 1949, state law has prohibited employers from paying women less than men when they are doing substantially similar work requiring the same skills.
And, indeed, the wage gap has narrowed, according to a legislative analysis of Eggman’s bill.
But not quickly enough. “At this rate, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152,” the analysis concludes.
In California alone, Eggman says, full-time female workers would earn $39 billion more per year if they were paid as much as their male colleagues. That averages out to an additional $8,000 per year for every California woman.
The bill had its share of critics, including business groups and chambers of commerce who argued that it would open up a can of lawsuits and that the problem already has been addressed by recent laws that have not had time to take full effect.
Employers may have legitimate reasons for asking for salary information, says the legislative analysis, paraphrasing comments by opponents. For instance, employers may not know what the typical pay is for a specific position.
But the bill cleared the Assembly by a vote of 57-15 and the Senate by a vote of 27-10. Eggman and state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, voted yes; Assemblyman Heath Flora, the Republican who represents much of eastern and southern San Joaquin County, voted no.
By Alex Breitler
Record Staff Writer