Bill to Eliminate Wage Disparities for Public Employees Signed into Law

Saturday, October 14, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill 46, authored by Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) was signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill will expand California’s pay equity laws to include all public employers, including the Legislature.


Last year, the Legislature passed several bills aimed at leveling the playing field for California’s working women and people of color. However, the legislation did not apply to California’s public sector or the Legislature.


“I authored AB 46 because not only am I the father of four women of color, but also because I believe it is important to lead by example and ensure that our pay equity laws apply to all sectors, both private and public.”


In 2016, a Sacramento Bee report found that women in the California State Assembly made 92 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts.


Current law states that an employer shall not pay any of its employees at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex or another race for substantially similar work. AB 46 would expand current law to include all public employers, including the Legislature.


AB 46 will eliminate wage disparities for public employees based on race, gender or ethnicity. In addition, the bill prohibits the use of prior salary as the sole justification for any disparity in compensation, affirming that workers’ salaries are based on the job requirements, expectations, qualifications, and not on an individual’s prior earnings


California has one of the largest wage gaps in the United States for African American and Hispanic women, who make just 64 and 44 cents, respectively, for every $1 a white man makes.


AB 46 will take effect on January 1, 2018.


Assemblymember Cooper represents the Cities of Sacramento, Elk Grove, Galt, and Lodi.