Affirmative Action/Quotas/Civil Rights/Equal Pay for Equal Work
California Gov. Brown has just signed a bill requiring equal pay for equal work between genders. If I have that correct, doesn't federal law already require this? If so, what is the purpose of a state law doing the same?
Under Federal law it has been illegal for a private employer to discriminate based on sex in paying employees for more than 50 years. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made such discrimination illegal. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made the discrimination prohibitions even broader. Federal laws have some limitations that may exempt some very small businesses because of the requirement that all such federal laws only cover employees that affect interstate commerce. However, California passed a State law doing essentially the same thing even earlier. The California Equal Pay Act of 1949 banned sex discrimination in pay in that State.
The new law takes the ban a bit farther. It not only bans pay discrimination based on sex for people working in the same job. It also requires employers to equalize pay for "substantially similar work". So, for example, if the State decided that two different jobs were substantially similar they could find the employer discriminated illegally. Opponents of the bill fear the State could abuse this by creating false equivalencies between different jobs.
The new law also prohibits employers from taking geographical differences into effect. For example if they paid a man in San Francisco more than a woman in a similar job in Los Angeles, the employer could not use the defense that average pay and costs of living are higher in San Francisco.
I hope this helps!