LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – The effort to level the playing field when it comes to equal pay for women will get a boost in the new year.

“On Jan. 1, we will have implemented the strongest equal-pay bill in the nation for the people of California,” said State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).

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Actress Patricia Arquette’s Oscar-acceptance speech on Feb. 22 inspired the new law when she said: “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all – equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

The Academy award-winning star joined state legislators at the North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library on Tuesday to announce that the California Fair Pay Act will take effect starting Friday.

“We need an unnatural readjustment to look at the new reality of America,” Arquette said.

“Women will be able to ask what their male coworkers are actually being paid without the fear of being retaliated against,” said Jackson who introduced the California Fair Pay Act.

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For example, if a female clerk at a grocery store finds out that her male coworker, who does the same job, is making more money than she is, she can challenge it.

What if an actress finds out that the leading man in the movie is making $20 million, and she is making $5 million?

“If you can show some business reason of why you are doing that, but the reality is: They’re not going to be able to show that.” Arquette explained.

Under the new law, an employer must show the “differences in wages are due to factors other than gender, that the factor is job related and reasonable and that these factors, rather than discrimination, account for the difference in pay.”

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Jackson said: “This pay gap has thrived in secrecy.” Now, no more secret.