Sun | Dec 15, 2019

California sued again for requiring women on company boards

Published:Wednesday | November 13, 2019 | 5:04 PM
In this May 16, 2019, file photo, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, addresses the Senate in Sacramento, California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — California’s first-in-the-nation law requiring publicly held companies to put women on their boards of directors is facing a second legal challenge.

The law requires publicly traded companies to have at least one woman on their boards by the end of this year.

By 2021, boards with five members must have two women, while those with six directors must have three.

The Pacific Legal Foundation provided The Associated Press with the lawsuit it filed in federal court Wednesday, arguing that the law violates the equal protection clause of the US Constitution.

The libertarian group wants to block such laws in California and other states.

Similar proposals have been introduced in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington state, the group said.

Illinois ultimately enacted a pared-down law this year requiring publicly traded companies to report the demographics of their boards and plans for promoting diversity to the state each year.

Some European countries, including Norway and France, already require corporate boards to include women.

“The law mandates exactly what the equal protection clause forbids — taking into account things like sex or race,” foundation attorney Anastasia Boden said.

“The Constitution is meant to ensure that people are free to be individuals. Here, the law assumes that people of the same sex are essentially interchangeable.”

Another conservative group, Judicial Watch, sued in August, arguing that spending taxpayer money to enforce the law would violate the California Constitution.

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