The Coast is Clear: California Bill That Would Mandate Pay Data Reporting Dies in Committee

This summer, California pay data reporting bill SB 1284 appeared to be progressing quickly through the legislature, until it was tabled by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 16, 2018.  The bill, which we reported on earlier this year, would have required employers with 100 or more employees to annually report pay data from employees’ W-2 forms for specified job types and pay bands, broken down by sex, race, and ethnicity.  The bill passed the Senate, and was working its way through the Assembly, where it was amended earlier this month. 

The Assembly’s amendment would have added a preamble explicitly stating that the bill was meant to implement the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) revised EEO-1 form, which was stayed by the Office of Management and Budget last year.  It also would have made the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) the administrating agency (instead of the Department of Industrial Relations), and added language stating that the purpose of the bill was “to allow for … designated state agencies to collect wage data to more efficiently identify wage patterns and allow for targeted enforcement of equal pay or discrimination laws, when appropriate.”  Additionally, it would have omitted civil penalties, instead allowing the DFEH to seek an order requiring the employer to comply and to recover costs associated with such order.

The bill, which was supposed to go to the floor on August 16, was shelved by committee suddenly the same day.  No explanation was given for the committee’s decision to pull the bill, but it had faced heavy criticism from groups such as the California Chamber of Commerce, particularly because its broad-brush groupings did not reflect the requirements of the state’s Equal Pay Act, which defines those employees whose pay must be equal (absent adequate justification) as those who perform substantially similar work in terms of their skill, effort, and responsibility.  Governor Brown declined to sign a similar bill into law last year.