On October 24, 2018 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced that Denton County Texas will pay $115,000 to a female physician formerly employed by the county. The EEOC filed suit in August 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas alleging that Dr. Martha C. Storrie was paid less than her male counterpart for the same job in violation of the Equal Pay Act. The court entered judgment in favor of the EEOC.
In a historic moment, yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a comprehensive pay-equity bill aimed at eradicating the wage gap in Massachusetts. With the bill’s passage, Massachusetts has become the first state in the nation to prohibit employers from asking job applicants to provide a salary history during the interview process.
Supporters of the law argued that the practice of requesting a salary history has been shown to disadvantage women, who, on average, are paid less than men. The bill aims to eliminate discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of gender, promote salary transparency, and encourage employers to review salaries to identify pay disparities within their organizations.
The new law is discussed in more detail here. The legislation goes into effect on July 1, 2018.
Seven years after the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law, the Obama Administration has announced additional steps to address the gender pay gap in this country. Specifically, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has proposed changes to the Employer Information Report (EEO-1) that would require businesses with more than 100 employees to submit detailed salary and pay information for each employee broken down by gender, race and ethnicity. The White House says the goal of this proposal is to “focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations.” Both the EEOC and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs would have access to the pay data for enforcement purposes.
The proposed Revision to the EEO-1 was published in the Federal Register on February 1, 2016. Interested parties have until April 1, 2016 to submit comments. While the rulemaking process is expected to be complete by September 2016, affected employers will not need to submit the additional salary and pay information until 2017 if the Revision is adopted as is.
To prepare for the new reporting requirements, employers with more than 100 employees should begin evaluating their pay practices now to identify any areas of pay disparity that should be addressed before the 2017 reporting period begins. Although this is information that employers should routinely examine and keep records of, even if just to be aware of potential inequities in salary structures and to be able to defend themselves against pay disparity claims, the revised reporting requirement will add a significant additional burden on companies required to complete the EEO-1.
The proposed Revision to the EEO-1 can be found here.
As discussed by Nicholas Casolaro in his blog post from August, the NH law which goes into effect January 1st relative to equal pay prevents employers from discriminating between employees on the basis of sex by paying employees of one sex at a rate less than the rate paid to employees of the other sex for what the statute refers to as “equal work.” Such work requires “equal skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions” by both the employees of one sex and employees of the other sex.
The statute allows employers to pay employees of one sex at a lower rate than employees of a different sex if the decision is made pursuant to a seniority system, a merit or performance-based system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of protection, based on the employee’s expertise, differentials in the employees’’ shifts, or factors such as education, training, or experience. These exceptions give employers the necessary flexibility to make legitimate and reasonable pay decisions without having to look over their shoulders for discrimination claims.
However, employers should review their pay scales and salary schedules to ensure that pay differentials and considerations for raises and bonuses are based on merit-based, seniority, or other acceptable systems as recognized in the statute.
Remember to post the new mandatory poster which is now available for download on the NH Department of Labor website: http://www.nh.gov/labor/.