California Governor okays laws to close racial and gender wage gaps, support women


California now has a law to strengthen California’s commitment to advancing gender equity and protecting the rights of women. The law came into force after Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1162 by Senator Monique Limόn (D-Santa Barbara), which requires employers to make salary ranges for positions available to applicants and employees and expands pay data reporting requirements to better identify gender and race-based pay disparities.

Governor Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom on Tuesday, September 27, met with leaders from the Legislative Women’s Caucus to highlight a package of priority legislation to strengthen California’s commitment to advancing gender equity and protecting the rights of women.

SB 1162 requires employers to make pay scale information available to employees and included in job postings. Building on a measure the Governor signed in 2020 to identify patterns of wage disparities through mandated statewide pay data reporting, SB 1162 expands state pay data reporting requirements, which include employee sex, race, and ethnicity information, to cover contracted employees.

“California has the strongest equal pay laws in the nation, but we’re not letting up on our work to ensure all women in our state are paid their due and treated equally in all spheres of life,” said Governor Newsom. “These measures bring new transparency to tackle pay gaps, end discriminatory pricing of products based on gender, and expand support for survivors of abuse and assault. I thank the Legislative Women’s Caucus for their leadership and partnership in building a more equitable California for all.”

The law that will come into effect from January 1, 2023, will make it mandatory for the nearly 200,000 companies with 15 or more employees to disclose pay ranges on the job advertisements posted in the state. California is home to 19 million workers and large corporate entities like Apple, Google, Disney, and Meta.

The bill adds that an employer with 15 or more employees will have “to include the pay scale for a position in any job posting.” The bill says that employers will have to maintain records of a job title and wage rate history for each employee for a specified timeframe, to be open to inspection by the Labor Commissioner.

This bill makes it compulsory for a private employer that has 100 or more employees to submit a pay data report to the department on or before the second Wednesday of May 2023, and for every year after that. Private employers with 100 or more employees, hired through labor contractors, will also have to submit a separate pay data report to the department for those employees in accordance with the same timeframe.

This bill states that employers would require to furnish the pay data reports with the median and mean hourly rate for each combination of race, ethnicity, and sex within each job category. Those who fail to adhere to this law would permit a court “to impose a civil penalty not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) per employee upon any employer who fails to file the required report and not to exceed two hundred dollars ($200) per employee upon any employer for a subsequent failure to file the required report”. The penalties will be deposited in the Civil Rights Enforcement and Litigation Fund.

“To achieve a California for ALL WOMEN, we must dismantle the patriarchal systems that have barred women from access to equal pay, secure housing, fair prices on goods, and support services and privacy after a sexual assault,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “These bills will move us in the right direction, and I am grateful to the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and Governor Newsom for their continued partnership in working to move the needle forward to true gender equality in California.”

“Over the last two years, the Legislative Women’s Caucus has been working tirelessly to help reverse the devastating impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women, especially women of color. The reality is that these issues existed long before the pandemic, but the pandemic further exacerbated and highlighted the work we need to do to lift up all women, especially low-income women of color, and has given us a greater sense of urgency,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. “Governor Newsom’s actions to sign a diverse package of bills that are leading with a lens on equity will make a positive difference for women, children, and families across the state and ensures we are rebuilding a system that better values women and everything they bring to the table.”

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1287 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) which eliminates the discriminatory “pink tax” by prohibiting different prices for goods based purely on what gender they are marketed to. AB 1287 allows for price differences when there is a significant difference in the cost or time to produce a particular good.

To support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, Governor Newsom signed AB 1467 by Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) which requires sexual assault and domestic violence counselors at public colleges to be independent of the Title IX office and prohibits these counselors from releasing the identity of a victim without permission.

AB 2185 by Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-San Diego) provides domestic violence victims access to free medical evidentiary exams by Local Sexual Assault Response Teams or other qualified medical evidentiary examiners. SB 1017 by Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) increases eviction protections for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other serious crimes.





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