Flickr/David Fulmer

California is trying to close the gap between what men and women earn through a new state law with tougher language than what's required under federal law.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Fair Pay Act, which requires companies to pay people the same, regardless of gender, for "substantially similar work." Language in federal law referred to "equal work," which became something of a loophole.

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No other state has a law as tough as California's where now, for instance, a company can't argue that a female housekeeper who cleans rooms in a hotel isn't doing "substantially similar" work to a male janitor who cleans the lobby, according to Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat who sponsored the bill.

Women workers in America earn about 84 cents to every dollar that men earn, according to Equal Rights Advocates, a group that fights for gender equality. That amounts to about $33.6 billion dollars a year, according to Gov. Brown.

“The win here is undeniable," Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, said in a statement.

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The new law not only enforces more precise language, but also allows workers to speak more openly about their pay to colleagues and challenge gender pay discrepancies at different locations of a company.

It passed California's legislature with support from both Democrats and Republicans, as well as the state's Chamber of Commerce, according to news reports.

I oversee Fusion's money section and have spent most of my time as a journalist writing about banks and finance. I live in Brooklyn with my partner Geoffrey & our two dogs, Captain & Tallulah. Favs: leopard print, Diet Coke, gummy candy, Ireland.