Will California's Tough New 'Equal Pay' Law Ultimately Be A Boon Or Burden For Women?

October 10, 2015Oct 10, 2015

California, once a bastion of opportunity and business growth, is putting into effect a new law that some praise as leveling the playing field while others criticize as harmful regulations on a state that has already become hostile to business.

According to The Washington Times, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation to force equal pay for men and women, not just for equal work, but also for "substantially similar work."


Gov. Brown explained, “Sixty-six years after passage of the California Equal Pay Act, many women still earn less money than men doing the same or similar work. This bill is another step toward closing the persistent wage gap between men and women.”

A National Partnership for Women & Families report claims that women in the California workforce still make only 84 cents for every dollar that men make.

But the new law is drawing plenty of criticism. Some argue that the wage gap exists primarily because of career choices, longevity, and the fact that women are more likely to work part-time jobs that typically do not pay as well per hour as full-time jobs.

Senior fellow at Stanford University Richard A. Epstein says the bill would simply worse California's economic problems by driving companies out of the state that are already being hampered by the weight of existing regulations.

Others say that the vague language of "substantially similar work" in the law opens up the doors to a litany of litigation. The law also prohibits companies from discriminating in any way against employees seeking a pay raise if they feel they're being discriminated against.

California Political Review's Stephen Frank noted that, ironically, the new law may hit the Hollywood the hardest. He points out that the entertainment center, while a bastion of liberalism, has one of the worst track records in the state for not paying women as much for the same work as men.