Gender pay gap bill moves to governor's desk

By Angela Underwood | Oct 10, 2017

A Southern California legislator believes in doing bold things to make change.

A Southern California legislator believes in doing bold things to make change.

That is why Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) authored Ab1209, a gender pay gap transparency act bill that currently sits on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown awaiting signature.

“I am really excited that it has come this far,” Gonzalez Fletcher told the Northern California Record. “It is the first time any state has taken this approach, although we know it is done in Europe. We looked at it through a national perspective during the Obama years, and no state has tried to implement this, so we are excited that it has gone this far and we will see what the governor thinks of it.”

The Northern California Record reported on the bill in early September when it passed the appropriations committee, noting the no votes by Sens. Pat Bates (R- Laguna-Nigel) and Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama). Nigel said AB 1209 could create a false impression of wage discrimination where none exists.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (R-San Diego)  

Gonzalez Fletcher disagrees.

“I think anyone who looks at the facts and doesn’t think the wage gap exists is just in denial obviously. We know it exists, it is well documented and it is time we get serious about opening it,” she said.

And as for Nigel’s belief that the bill will subject businesses to unjustified public criticism and meritless lawsuits, which will increase costs for employers and consumers alike, not true, according to the assemblywoman.

“That’s ridiculous,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “People can still pay men and women fairly and still do business in a competitive environment.”

The California Chamber of Commerce and the California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) also oppose AB1209. Julie Griffiths, regional director of the Sacramento-based CALA, told the Northern California Record via email that though well intended, AB 1209 opens the floodgates for frivolous litigation against California employers.

“There are many good laws on the books to address gender pay gaps and, we agree, more needs to be done,” Griffiths said. The regional director of the non-partisan grassroots group said AB1209 allows a handful of bad actors the ability to file a lawsuit against a business without affording protections for those businesses who may be in compliance.

“It’s just bad for California’s economy,” Griffiths said. “As our motto goes 'Create Jobs Not Lawsuits.'"

If passed, the bill will not take effect until July 1, 2020. According to the assemblywoman, the delayed implantation gives companies a chance to do the right thing.  

“Our real hope is that the pending transparency. If companies knew that they would have to report this they would have the next year to take a look at their pay gap and see if they can’t fix it,” Gonzalez Fletcher said, adding, “If not the next generation of young woman are going to face the same thing.”

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