WASHINGTON, D.C. — Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in support of Creighton Meland, Jr. a shareholder of a corporation subject to California’s mandatory corporate gender quota law. 

Meland, who is represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, argues that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits the state from forcing individuals to effectuate sex-based discrimination.

As of December 31, 2019, California’s SB 826 statute requires every publicly traded company headquartered or incorporated in the state to have a minimum of one female director. By December 31, 2021, that number will increase depending on the board’s size. The Secretary of State has the authority to impose fines for any violation of the quota law.

The law applies in perpetuity to all California companies, irrespective of industry and irrespective of whether there is specific evidence of past discrimination against women in a particular company or industry.

This past spring, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California dismissed Meland’s complaint for lack of standing. IWLC argues on appeal that because SB 826 harnesses the power of the state to force individuals to discriminate, shareholders such as Meland have standing to challenge the law in court.

Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center, issued the following statement: “California’s corporate gender quota law forces shareholders to do what the Constitution forbids the state from doing itself — setting aside spots for women in industries where there is no evidence of past sex discrimination.” 

Charlotte Whelan, policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum, said: “Today, more than 20 percent of corporate board seats at our nation’s top 3,000 publicly traded companies are occupied by women. Every company in the S&P 500 now has a woman on its board of directors. These milestones were reached without the help of government-imposed quotas that make gross generalizations about women in business and fail to account for different life choices that men and women often make.”

Attorney Amanda Narog of the Bopp Law Firm helped with the preparation of the brief.

Read the Amicus Brief HERE. Read IWF’s Policy Focus on corporate gender quotas HERE.