A new wage-equality law aimed at helping women in California should be extended to also reduce disparities in pay by race, a state lawmaker said Wednesday.
Sen. Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from paying workers a wage rate less than the rate paid to employees of a different race or ethnicity for “substantially similar” work.
“No employee should be denied an equal wage for an equal day of work,” said Hall, who is chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, during a Capitol news conference. “It is an economic injustice. It is discriminatory. It is just wrong.”
Hall cited a 2013 study by the American Assn. of University Women that found African American men earn 75% of the average salary of a Caucasian male worker in California, while African American women make 64 cents, and Hispanic or Latina women make just 54 cents for every dollar that a white man earns.
The new standard would make it easier for employees to challenge what they believe is unfair pay, borrowing language from a gender pay law approved last year by the Legislature and governor.
Hall said his mother had to work three jobs to care for her six kids, which was difficult. “It is even more difficult to do when your job pays you less than your white co-workers,” he said.
The measure is supported by several civil rights activists, including Cassandra Jennings, president of the Greater Sacramento Urban League, who said the wage disparity is “unacceptable.”
“This puts many of our participants at a huge disadvantage in entering the workplace,” she said during the news conference to announce SB 1063.