Equal pay for women goal of new bill in California Legislature

In her acceptance speech at the Academy Awards on Sunday, Patricia Arquette called for equal pay for women. On Tuesday, lawmakers in California responded.
(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

A group of women lawmakers on Tuesday proposed legislation aimed at helping female workers in California get the same pay as male colleagues.

The bill would strengthen protections against pay discrimination and retaliation against workers who make inquiries about pay, according to its author, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).

Jackson is chairwoman of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, whose Democratic members are supporting SB 358.

The bill has long been in the works, but Jackson said she was inspired to act now by actress Patricia Arquette, who used her acceptance speech at the Academy Awards on Sunday to call for equal pay for women.


“Equal pay for equal work is long overdue,” Jackson said in a statement. “The time is now. It isn’t just the right thing for California women. It’s also the right thing for our economy and for California.”

In 2013, a woman in California working full time made a median of 84 cents for every dollar a man earned, according to Equal Rights Advocates, a national civil rights organization based in San Francisco.

“Equal pay for equal work is economic justice and basic common sense. It is also long overdue,” said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).