California’s Law Requiring One Woman On Every Corporate Board Struck Down as Unconstitutionally Discriminatory


The Stanley Mosk Courthouse Los Angeles Superior Court

A Los Angeles judge ruled Friday that California’s 2018 law requiring women on all corporate boards violates the California state constitution. Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis struck down the statute, reasoning that it violated the equal protection clause of the California constitution.

Conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch brought the underlying legal challenge against California’s law, claiming the state illegally used taxpayer funds to enforce a law that violates the equal protection clause of the California Constitution by mandating a gender-based quota.

The law in question is California’s Senate Bill No. 826, which was signed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown (D) in 2018. At the time, Brown said that California adopted the statute against the backdrop of the #MeToo era—and that some companies “are not getting the message.”

The lawsuit quoted Brown acknowledging “serious legal concerns have been raised” to the legislation.

“I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation,” Brown said at the time, according to the lawsuit.

S.B. 826 mandates that by 2021, all businesses with principal executive offices in California must have “a minimum of one female, as defined, on its board of directors.” The minimum number of women on the board would increase to two if the corporation has five directors, and to three if the corporation has six or more directors. The law also specifies that for its purposes, “‘female’ means an individual who self-identifies her gender as a woman, without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

The law authorized the Secretary of State to assess fines and penalties for violations, including a fine of up to $100,000 for failure to report board compositions and up to $300,000 for multiple…


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