Will California Law Protect Employees From Racial Discrimination Too?

Posted by Ria, 24 Apr

A California State Senator wants to expand the law that requires equal pay for employees regardless of gender to also include equal pay regardless of race – to protect all employees against racial discrimination. Already, businesses are implementing the equal pay law for gender equality which was passed in 2015. They are expected to explain any discrepancies in salaries between men and women who do the same jobs.

Sen. Isadore Hall’s proposal is meant to add onto the existing fair pay legislation by adding "race or ethnicity". It will be heard by the committee to allow employees to challenge salary discrepancies among people from various races doing similar work.

"No one should be paid less than what they’re worth and no one should be discriminated against because of the hue of their skin or their gender," said Hall. "This is the most robust racial equality bill in the nation."

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The existing law, gives employees the opportunity to “openly discuss their challenge pay gaps between men and women.” Its considered the toughest of its kind since there hadn’t been such a state or federal law that forces employers to ascertain they're not discriminating their employees based on sex.

As written on Yahoo, "Racial discrimination was strategically left out of that law to ensure its passage, leaving the fate of Hall's proposal uncertain."Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, author of the law said: "The goal is to get to a place where we're all paid fairly for our work. I don't know if we can accomplish that all at once."

"There is plenty of evidence to show women of color are facing lower pay for many reasons and one of those reasons is the combination of race and gender. But a lot of it is explained by other factors as well," said Jennifer Reisch, legal director at Equal Rights Advocates, a civil rights nonprofit that helped craft California's 2015 law.

Employment attorney, Donna Rutter doesn’t see a reason to amend the law to include race and ethnicity. She thinks it will lead to the addition of other characteristics such as disability, age and religion which might make it impossible for employers to monitor workers' individualities.

But if you really look at the stats, most colored people aren’t paid the same as their White counterparts. As reported on Yahoo:

“Women comprise about 60 percent of California workers earning minimum wage or less, according to a review of federal labor statistics by the National Women's Law Center. The majority of those women are not white.

Compared to their non-Hispanic, white male counterparts in California, Latinas made 43 cents to every dollar, Native American women made 50 cents, black women made 63 cents and Asian American women made 72 cents in 2014, according to NWLC's study of U.S. Census Bureau surveys. Across the country, white women make about 77 percent of what white men make.”

There you have it. Do you think it’s necessary to add race and ethnicity onto the 2015 employment law?

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