California State Senator Introduces Legislation That Would Require Companies to Pay Black, White Employees Equally

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Sen. Isadore Hall III, D-South Bay, chairman of the California Legislative Black Caucus, was joined by civil rights and minority leaders from throughout California as he announced the introduction of SB 1063, the Wage Equality Act of 2016. (CASenDems)

A California legislator has introduced a bill that would end race-based pay inequality, according to news reports.

The bill, introduced Wednesday, was authored by State Sen. Isadore Hall, chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus. The law would also ban retaliation on employees who request salary information on their co-workers.

“It’s a crime to think that anyone could work on a job and be paid less just because of your race and/or your gender,” Hall said at a press conference. “It’s an economic injustice, it’s discriminatory and it’s just outright wrong.”

According to the data, pay inequality is still a major problem. Hall said Black men are paid only 75 percent of what white men make, according to The Guardian. This isn’t the only area where this a pay gap. A 2013 study commissioned by the American Association of University Women showed that Black women, Asian women and Latinas are also underpaid. The study showed that Black women make 64 cents, Asian women make 90 cents and Latinas make 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes.

According to The Guardian, this adds up to almost $40 billion in annual lost wages for women of color in California.

Hall’s SB 1063 builds on 2015’s California Fair Pay Act, which requires equal pay for men and women. The Guardian reported the California Fair Pay Act went into effect in January, and some companies in the state are already conducting internal audits to see if they are in compliance.

Shannon Smith-Crowley of the American Association of University Women told The Guardian that Hall’s legislation should encourage employers to look at racial pay inequality before they are compelled to do so by the government.

“While employers are assessing whether women and men are paid fairly, it gives them the opportunity to include other factors, such as race and ethnicity,” she said. “It’s critical for employers now to take a step back and reassess what they are paying. They may not be intending to discriminate. They are just using a system set up decades ago and they’re perpetuating that discrimination.”

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