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Pay Equity Matters: Mind the Gap

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.

If you’re a Massachusetts employer gearing up to comply with the state equal pay law set to be in effect in just four short months, you probably have questions. The law will prohibit you from paying employees of a different gender at different rates provided they are doing “comparable work,” and will also bar inquiries about salary history. But what constitutes “comparable work”? And when comparing employee pay, what counts as “wages” under the statute?

Fisher Phillips has launched a Pay Equity Interactive Map available on our website.  The map offers a state-by-state synopsis of pay equity laws, regulations and requirements in a user-friendly format. The map is a tool developed by the Pay Equity Practice Group which was formed last year in response to the enactment of robust equal pay legislation in a number of states and a substantial uptick in litigation. 

Tinseltown stars have always had a special place in our hearts. Their portrayals of characters brought to life from our favorite books or screenplays so often teach us lessons about ourselves, life, and those around us. What we hadn’t bargained for, however, is how much they seem to be showing us about employment law lately. The newest lesson—pay equity. 

Call it ironic, but even providers of legal services are targets for pay equity litigation. Case in point: a $300 million dollar class action lawsuit filed against a labor and employment law firm in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Hours after being sworn in as New Jersey’s 56th governor yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order prohibiting public employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s current or prior salary. In doing so, New Jersey follows in the footsteps of other states, cities, and counties (including Albany County, New York, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York City, San Francisco, and Oregon) that have enacted similar laws applying to both public and private employers.

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