The California State Senate has passed a law to shield workers in the state from a US Supreme Court decision that severely limits employees’ ability to sue for equal pay. In May, the Court ruled 5-4 in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire Co. that wage discrimination complaints could only be filed within 180 days of the initial discriminatory salary decision. The California fix specifies that the time period for filing a complaint restarts with each discriminatory paycheck.
“The Court’s decision ignores the reality of the workplace where salaries are often hidden … [It] encourages employers to hide information and will likely lead to more unlawful discrimination,” said California Assemblymember Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), the bill’s sponsor. “This legislation will ensure that the Supreme Court’s flawed decision does not apply to state laws that affect a worker’s right to equal pay.”
The bill makes California the first state to introduce its own version of the federal Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bipartisan bill to clarify federal discrimination law in the wake of Ledbetter. The Act passed the House in July and awaits approval in the Senate, where it is titled The Fair Pay Restoration Act.
The California bill must still pass the State Assembly and be signed by the governor. It has the support of women’s rights, civil rights, and labor groups but faces opposition from the state Chamber of Commerce.