BLOG: SB 1162 would use employer data against employers

published on July 22, 2022 – 11:33
Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.

A “job killer” identified by the California Chamber of Commerce is still in play in Sacramento – and it’s leaving plaintiff’s attorneys salivating.

As seen in today’s print edition of the Business Journal, SB 1162 — proposed by Sen. Monique Limon (D-Goleta) — would authorize publication of employer-reported salary data by gender, race, origin ethnicity and job category.

The state began reporting this data on employers with more than 100 or more workers (without identifying them) in 2021 to comply with previous legislation. According to CalChamber, at the time, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explicitly stated that these reports are not useful in identifying wage disparities between two workers in the same situation.

SB 1162 seeks to make all data publicly identifiable by individual companies “and to add average salaries for each job category by race and gender on the grounds that this would reveal gender and racial-based wage disparities,” according to CalChamber.

What this essentially does is open up a smorgasbord of liability for employers, which will encourage lawsuits and make hiring even more burdensome than it already is. It also subjects employers to a private right of action and penalties under the burdensome Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA).

SB 1162 is further evidence that the state government can and will use whatever it can to demonize employers. CalChamber is correct that this particular bill – which will be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee in a few weeks – “is a cynical and dishonest manipulation of what the EEOC itself has admitted is not not a reliable measure of wage disparities between similarly situated employees.”

There is no doubt that these reports will be used to develop future legislation. SB 1162 goes further by proposing that employees publicly identify any contractor they contract with, for the express purpose of shaming employers for something that is not illegal.

A similar 2017 bill, AB 1209, would have required employers to publish data on average wage gaps between male and female employees. As CalChamber noted, in a Sacramento Business Journal article that year, a member of the plaintiff’s bar said, “By posting this on the Secretary of State’s website, the government is essentially giving us (lawyers of the complainant) the data we need to go there and hammer companies.

Governor Brown vetoed this bill due to justifiable concerns it “could be exploited to encourage more litigation than pay equity”.

Employers must come together to oppose SB 1162. For more information, visit the CalChamber here for a sample letter to send to your representatives.

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