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Will equal pay for equal work ever become a reality?

A couple of years ago, a new law went into effect that was meant to ensure that women were being paid equally compared to their male counterparts. But is it working, and what exactly is the pay differential between men and women?

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times shows that, despite advances, female employees with the state of California have salaries that trail their male colleagues by just over 20 percent. If, after nearly two years since the law was passed, the state of California cannot balance male and female salaries, can private sector employees expect the same indifference? A recent case decided in the spring of this year offers little hope.

The California Equal Pay Act

When the California Equal Pay Act was signed in 2015, there was some optimism that women’s salaries would soon fall in line with men’s. With, however, disparate salary differences already, how long will it take before wages balance out?

One woman found out just how much less compensation she received than the men with whom she worked. School consultant Aileen Rizo found that she was compensated at $63,000, while a male colleague was paid a whopping $15,000 more than she for the same job.

It’s not likely that a company, especially a school district, is going to amp Rizo’s salary by $15, 000—which was apparently arrived at by reviewing her past salary and adding a five percent increase to it.

Sanctioned discrimination?

The Los Angeles Times further reports that when Rizo fought the district’s policies on pay, the 9th Court of Appeals essentially sanctioned the actions, stating that salary history and business policies are bonafide reasons for offering lower wages to some employees, if it is implemented in “a reasonable” way.

How this will play out in the future remains to be seen. If the gap is, as widely reported, a staggering 20 percent, it could take years, if not decades for women’s salaries to equal that of their male counterparts.

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