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Brown Signs New Equal Pay Law For Women

Ben Bradford / Capital Public Radio

Ben Bradford / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new equal pay law for women.

"This is a bill and this is an occasion where we have come together, both parties, men and women, to achieve a very clear goal," Brown said. "And that is reaching toward greater equity. We're all in this together."

The bill requires employers to pay women the same as men for “substantially similar work” rather than current law’s requirement of equal work at the same establishment. Employers would need to document the reasons for any discrepancies, such as seniority.

Brown held a signing ceremony at Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park in Richmond, with some of the original "Rosies" in attendance.

Phyllis Gould welded boats during World War II for 90 cents an hour. She belonged to a union, so that was the same wage the men received. Gould says she’s shocked that more than 70 years later, there’s a wage gap between genders.

"It's high time," she said of the new California law.

A recent nationwide study finds a gap of more than 20 percent in the median wages of men and women working full-time.

Brown signed 37 bills on Tuesday. They include two new tribal gaming compacts. Other bills tighten privacy standards for agencies that use automated license plate readers, add more oversight to the medication given to foster youth for mental health disorders and make it an invasion of privacy to enter the "air space" above someone else’s land.

Brown also vetoed three bills. One would have required workers compensation to calculate payouts for breast cancer the same way as prostate cancer.

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