Jerry Brown to fix all of California's problems with new "fair pay" law

Even thought it’s already illegal to discriminate in pay against anyone based on their gender, race, religion or whichever other pigeonhole you choose to shoot for, California is eager to show that they’re on top of the gender pay gap. With that in mind, Jerry Brown is getting ready to sign yet another piece of legislation seeking to remedy… whatever it is that they think is causing the situation. (Yahoo News)

Female employees in California are poised to get new tools to challenge gender-based wage gaps and receive protection from discrimination and retaliation if they ask questions about how much other people earn.

A bill recently passed by the Legislature and that Gov. Jerry Brown has indicated he will sign won’t suddenly put all women’s salaries on par with men’s or prod employers to freely disclose what every employee makes, which could make it easier for workers to mount pay discrimination claims.

But the legislation expands what supporters call an outdated state equal pay law and goes further than federal law, placing the burden on the employer to prove a man’s higher pay is based on factors other than gender and allowing workers to sue if they are paid less than someone with a different job title who does “substantially similar” work.

If you read through all of the details of this legislation at the link above it quickly becomes clear that this is one of those muddled, feel good schemes which was hoisted through the process on the shoulders of Social Justice Warriors who knew that most politicians would be petrified at the thought of voting against it just based on the name. At the same time, what it seems to actually accomplish is precisely… nothing.

Leave aside for a moment the fact that the majority of the “gender wage gap” is accounted for by the data showing how women tend to choose college majors which lead to lower paying fields. Even when we ignore that, the goals of this bill (when compared to what it actually provides) should leave most people feeling dizzy. Under its mandate women will be able to ask their bosses how much other (presumably male) workers in “similar” roles are being paid without fear of retribution. Of course, the bill also makes it clear that the employer is entitled to refuse to tell them and to send them back to their work station… also at no penalty. But let’s assume for a moment that the boss tells them that Joe Blow is making 73K and the woman happens to be making 68K. What then? Well, they run straight into another law about to go on the books which actually provides sane relief for employers when such questions arise.

California’s pending Fair Pay Act stipulates employers can justify higher wages for men only if the pay is based on seniority, a merit system, quantity or quality of production, or any other “bona fide factor other than sex.” It cleared the Legislature with bipartisan support and the backing of the state Chamber of Commerce.

In other words, if you are a woman who is making less than a man in your office you need to find out if they have been there longer, have been producing more and/or better work, have higher qualifications, or can cite any other “bona fide factor” in why they are receiving a more favorable compensation package. If you can somehow prove all of that and your boss is still paying you less then you are probably a poor negotiator at the hiring / review table, but perhaps your boss could use a hint, I agree. But in most cases, employers pay what they can to be profitable and reward the best talent so as to keep them around.

So what will all of this wind up accomplishing again? Sounds like a formula for more lawsuits to me. But not to worry! The bill’s champions assure us that’s not the case at all.

The goal, however, isn’t to clog the courts with new lawsuits, she said, although the newer standards should make it easier to prevail on a lawsuit.

“What it’s designed to do is to make the enforcement more attainable and to remove barriers to effectuating the purposes of the law, which is to make sure that women and men are being paid equally for doing substantially similar work,” she said.

I see. Well, as long as you’ve thought this through, then. Oh.. and pull the other one. It’s got bells on it.