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California Law Requiring Female Board Members Challenged In Court

Earlier this week, three taxpayers sued California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to prevent enforcement of Senate Bill 826.

Senate Bill 826, signed into law last year by former Governor Jerry Brown, requires that by the end of 2019, all publicly held foreign or domestic corporations whose principal executive offices are in California shall have at least one female director on their boards of directors. By 2021, such corporations are required to have at least two female directors if the board has five members or at least three female directors if the board has six or more members.

The lawsuit asserts that this “quota system” violates Article I, Section 31 of the California Constitution, which prevents discrimination based on sex.  The Plaintiffs ask for a judgment declaring illegal all expenditure of taxpayer funds and taxpayer-resources to enforce SB 826 as well as an injunction permanently prohibiting Padilla from enforcing SB 826.

The lawsuit was filed by Judicial Watch, Inc., a self-described “conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, [that] promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.”

This is the second lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against California in the past week. Last week, Judicial Watch sued the state for its new law requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns in order to appear on a primary ballot.

California Corporate Board Gender Law

© 2020 Proskauer Rose LLP.


About this Author

Anthony J Oncidi, Employment Attorney, Proskauer Rose Law Firm

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office. Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection....

Cole Lewis Employment Attorney

Cole Lewis is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department.

Cole graduated from UCLA School of Law, where he worked as a law clerk for Public Counsel of Los Angeles and advocated for benefit recipients in the Department of Public Social Services. He has also previously worked as a summer associate in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Department.

Prior to law school, Cole received his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Indiana University, where he graduated cum laude.