Massachusetts First To Enact Pay Equity Legislation
Posted: August 03, 2016
On August 1, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed Bill S.2119, “An Act to Establish Pay Equity” into law. Effective July 1, 2018, the Act makes history as the first law of its kind to address pay equity in employment relationships. In particular, the Act prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of gender as it pertains to wages. Essentially, employers cannot pay a particular gender less than the other for comparable work. There are a few exceptions to this requirement such as a merit system or a system that rewards seniority (time spent away due to a pregnancy-related condition or protected medical, parental or family leave cannot impact seniority). Employers may also take into account geographic location of the position, education or experience relevant to the position, travel (if regular and necessary for the job) and a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production. Notably, the Act also makes it an unlawful practice for employers to:
- Require that employees refrain from discussing or disclosing their own wages, or other employee’s wages.
- Seek wage or salary history of a prospective employee from the former or current employer or require that the previous wage or salary history meet any particular criteria.
- However, if a prospective employee voluntarily discloses wage or salary history, employers may confirm such information.
- Employers may seek or confirm the prospective employee’s wage or salary history after an offer of employment with compensation has been made.
- Discharge or retaliate against any employee because the employee disclosed his/her wages, made or indicated an intent to make a complaint, opposed any act or practice that is unlawful, or testified or assisted with any investigation under the Act.