Monday, June 27, 2022

Judge strikes down California law requiring women on corporate boards

LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) – A Los Angeles judge has ruled that a landmark California law requiring women on corporate boards is unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis said the law, which requires three women directors to have until this year, violates the right to equal treatment. The verdict was delivered on Friday.

The law was challenged by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, claiming that it was illegal to use taxpayer funds to enforce a law that violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution by mandating gender-based quotas.

In the three years it has been on the books, it has been credited with improving the status of women in corporate boardrooms.

The state defended the law as constitutional, saying it is necessary to reverse the culture of discrimination that favors men and is enforced only after other measures have failed. The state also said that the law did not create a quota because boards could add seats for women directors without stripping men from their positions.

Betsy Bogart testified that no fine was ever imposed and had no intention of doing so. In addition, a letter that surfaced during the trial of former Secretary of State Alex Padilla warned Brown a few weeks before signing the law that it was probably unenforceable.

“Any attempt by the Secretary of State to levy or enforce a fine would probably be in excess of his authority,” Padilla wrote.

The law requires that publicly held companies be headquartered in California. They must have one member of their board of directors identifying as a woman by the end of 2019. By January 2022, a board with five directors was required to have two women and a board with six or more members. Three women were needed.

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