Mayor Lee Signs Equal Pay Ordinance, Advancing Gender Equity in San Francisco

For Immediate Release          
December 22, 2014

Cynthia Foster, Equal Rights Advocates, cfoster [at]
Sara Feldman, Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, sfeldman [at], 415-593-0071

Mayor Lee Signs Equal Pay Ordinance, Advancing Gender Equity in San Francisco

In a significant step forward for gender equity in San Francisco, on Friday Mayor Edwin Lee signed into law a local ordinance that requires companies that contract to do business with the city track and share data on pay equity. The ordinance, authored by Supervisor David Campos, passed unanimously out of the Board of Supervisors and was supported by workers’ and women’s advocates.

The new ordinance requires San Francisco city contractors with at least 20 employees to file annual reports with the City’s Human Rights Commission, providing data on employee compensation by race and gender.  As an initial step, the ordinance mandates the formation of an Equal Pay Advisory Board, which, through a series of public meetings to take place over the next year, will develop a reporting system that is both feasible for contractors and effective in identifying pay inequity.

Although the federal Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, a woman still earns only 78 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart, and the pay gap is even larger for women of color. 

“Often, women are unable to assert their right to equal pay  because they lack essential information about their employer’s pay practices and fear retaliation should they request this information,” said Rachael Langston, staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. 

Noreen Farrell, executive director at Equal Rights Advocates, agreed. “This ordinance would require pay transparency from a number of City contractors, ensuring that taxpayer dollars go to contractors who are committed to paying their employees equal pay for equal work,” she said.

“The consequences of wage discrimination are extremely significant,” said Supervisor Campos. “In San Francisco, where we are experiencing an affordability crisis, it means women and families are having a harder time paying rent, securing quality healthcare, paying for childcare, and saving for a rainy day or retirement. Eliminating wage discrimination is not only a matter of fairness, it will have real material impacts on women, their families, and society as a whole.”

Equal Rights Advocates and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center together authored an op-ed in support of the equal pay ordinance for The San Francisco Chronicle.

The San Francisco legislation is part of a larger push toward pay equity within government contractors. President Obama recently signed an Executive Order requiring that federal contractors report data on their pay practices by employee race and gender, similar to the San Francisco ordinance.

About the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center |
Founded in 1916, the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center protects the rights and economic self-sufficiency of low-income workers by providing free legal services, education and advocacy. LAS-ELC’s Work and Family Program advocates for the employment rights of pregnant workers, new parents and employees facing family medical crises.

About Equal Rights Advocates |
Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) is a national civil rights organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls. 

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