Working Women Have Blockbuster Day in the Assembly

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

SACRAMENTO – (Wednesday, May 31, 2017) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) today won approval for several “women in the workplace” initiatives she authored this year to address income inequality as well as the challenges of working while pregnant or as a young mother.

The Assembly voted to advance legislation making diapers reimbursable for low-income working mothers, outlawing discriminatory policies against pregnant female employees, and to shine a light on the gender pay gap that keeps women earning pennies on the dollar compared to their male peers. 

“These bills will make a difference for women in the workforce. Women can have their privacy invaded and be financially penalized for getting pregnant and having babies, and that’s completely unacceptable. Pregnancy is a natural condition and employers should support their pregnant employees, not penalize them with discriminatory leave policies or reduced disability benefits,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. 

Assembly Bill 569 outlaws a loophole allowing employers to invade the privacy of their female employees through restrictive employee codes of conduct. The law was introduced after an unmarried employee of a San Diego-area private religious college was terminated by the school administration after they discovered she had become pregnant. The woman was told she was being fired for violating the employee code of conduct, which prohibited premarital sex. AB 569 will outlaw such invasive codes of conduct. 

Assembly Bill 570 would also benefit pregnant women in the workforce. The measure will strike a provision of the state’s workers compensation laws that allow physicians to assign a portion of a woman’s injury to a current or prior pregnancy, even though pregnancy is a normal physical condition for women. Disability benefits are calculated based off a number of factors, and including pregnancy in the evaluation—even if the pregnancy is completely unrelated to the injury—effectively lowers the benefits paid out to injured women. 

Assembly Bill 480 to add diapers to the category of expenses that can be reimbursed for low-income parents who are enrolled in California’s welfare-to-work program. Helping young parents cover the expense of diapers – which can cost more than $100 per child per month – addresses an often overlooked barrier to work. Parents require child care s they can be available for work, and child care require parents to provide a daily supply of diapers.

Assembly Bill 1209, the Gender Pay Gap Transparency Act, shines a light on compensation for California women. Modeled after a similar law that took effect in Great Britain last month, AB 1209 will require large companies to report their mean and median salary data by classification and gender to the Secretary of State, who will then post the data online so that consumers can easily see which companies fairly compensate the women who work for them.

“The gender pay gap is real, and it hurts women. We can close the pay gap by making companies report the wages they pay men and women for the same job on a public website to see just which employers are really committed to fairness. Equal pay for equal work won’t become a reality if we don’t know where women are being paid less than they deserve,” added the Assemblywoman.

For more information on the Assemblywoman’s legislative package, or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher, contact John Vigna at (916) 319-2080 or (916) 212-0357.