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Pay Equity Matters: Mind the Gap

U.K. companies were recently required to submit their first mandatory report providing statistics on their gender pay gap. We have now seen what the first round of reporting looks like and how employers have dealt with reports that indicate there is a gender pay gap problem. Without getting into a statistical analysis of the data, suffice it to say the statistics submitted so far by 10,503 companies confirm the gender pay gap is a real problem. Now that employers understand that there are inequalities in pay, it remains to be seen how these companies will implement measures to address the causes of these inequalities.

The salary history ban trend that has been sweeping the nation for past few years hit a speedbump a few weeks ago in Philadelphia. In January 2017, Philadelphia became the first city in the nation to adopt legislation prohibiting employers from inquiring about the salary histories of applicants. However, the ordinance came under heavy fire by Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and some of the city’s large employers, which challenged the legality of the ordinance in a lawsuit. It was originally to take effect in May 2017 but the city agreed to delay implementation pending the outcome of the lawsuit. 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy just signed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, which was recently passed by the state legislature. His signature today means New Jersey’s antidiscrimination law will soon be expanded to prohibit discrimination in pay on the basis of any of the protected categories recognized under state law.

On the heels of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for New York to take additional steps to close the gender wage gap, the New York State Assembly passed a suite of pay equity legislation that would impact both private and public employers if successfully enacted. 

On April 10, 2018, Equal Pay Day, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled proposed legislation banning all employers in New York from asking job applicants about their salary history. The legislation is aimed at closing the gender wage gap in New York. 

Westchester County has enacted a Wage History Anti-Discrimination Law which will soon make it illegal for employers to ask potential employees their salary history. The law was passed by the County Board of Legislators on April 9 and signed into law by County Executive George Latimer the following day. The law takes effect July 9, 2018.

The backlash has begun: whereas an increasing number of employers are now banned from asking prospective employees about their salary history, local jurisdictions in two states face a ban from instituting such bans. What do employers need to know about this latest development in the pay equity world?

A California state court just breathed new life into a class action lawsuit against Google that could have a significant impact on pay equity claims across the country. The March 27, 2018 ruling gave the stamp of approval to an amended complaint filed by former female Google employees alleging unequal pay practices. The court ruled that the amendments, which focused on Google’s supposed uniform pay practices, were sufficient to meet the pleading standard and state a cause of action for a class-wide unequal pay claim.

The parties to a high-profile Equal Pay Act lawsuit have reached a multi-million dollar settlement that will be sure to capture the attention of employers across the country. Former partners of the law firm Chadbourne & Parke LLP (now part of Norton Rose Fulbright) resolved a pay equity lawsuit against their former law firm, but the settlement left unanswered the question about who is considered an “employee” under the Act.

As we reported last November, businesses in the UK with 250 or more employees now are required publicly to report differences in pay between men and women on their own websites and also to upload such information to a government-sponsored website. With the March 31, 2018 deadline for doing so rapidly approaching, some business—including some law firms—already have begun posting such data.

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