Fighting for Women's Equality

ERA Calls for Legislative Action to Close Wage Gap for Women of Color

January 19, 2016 | by

For Immediate Release           
January 19th, 2016

Cynthia Foster, Equal Rights Advocates, 615-944-9166


Equal Rights Advocates Calls for Legislative Action
to Close Wage Gap for Women of Color

SACRAMENTO – Economic justice advocates and legislators called for immediate action to close the wage gap for women of color at the Capitol today, holding an informational hearing on the major causes of the wage gap for women of color.

The hearing came on the heels of a significant fair pay victory last year – the signing into law of the California Fair Pay Act, the strongest equal pay law in the nation.

The need for action is urgent. In California, black women earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by white men. Latinas make 43 cents.

At the hearing, advocates and individuals presented testimony on the fact that women of color are the most harmed by the gender wage gap. Speakers included Jennifer Reisch, legal director of Equal Rights Advocates, other members of the Stronger California Advocates Network, and individual women who are directly harmed by the wage gap.

Members of the Stronger California Advocates Network, co-chaired by Equal Rights Advocates, presented proposals and information targeting the three primary drivers of continuing pay inequity for women of color:

  • A too-low minimum wage
  • The segregation of women of color into lower-paying industries and occupations
  • Barriers to entry in better-paying, male-dominated industries

“It is time for California to prioritize economic security for women of color, who earn far less for their work than anybody else. Raising the minimum wage, ensuring basic rights for workers in female-dominated industries like domestic work, and opening up access to higher-paying jobs are necessary steps to addressing the persistent and pernicious wage gap for black, Latina, and Native American women,” said Jennifer Reisch, legal director of Equal Rights Advocates.

The hearing was sponsored by the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Girls and Women of Color, the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, and the Legislative Women’s Caucus, and organized in partnership with the California Latino Legislative Caucus, Legislative Black Caucus, API Legislative Caucus, Legislative LGBT Caucus, and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.

In partnership with the Stronger California Advocates Network, Equal Rights Advocates intends to prioritize remedying the wage gap for women of color in the 2016 legislative session. Specific bills will be announced in March 2016. For more information, visit

Download the policy paper for today’s hearing here. 

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