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Pay Equity Matters: Mind the Gap

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.

Oh, Hollywood. Reports emanating from the center of the U.S. film industry have put a spotlight (see what I did there?) on sexual harassment for several months. But the recent revelations regarding the pay disparities between Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams demonstrate that harassment is not the only thing employers should be re-evaluating in light of these blockbuster (did it again!) revelations. 

The first day of the legislative session in Florida saw the introduction of two pay equity bills referred to as the “Senator Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act.” The bills, SB 594 and HB 393, would create additional causes of action arising out of unequal pay or unequal opportunities in employment based upon gender. Additionally, the bills propose new protections for discussing employee wages in the workplace, and would bar employers from inquiring about past wage and salary histories of applicants and employees.

The issue of gender equality in the workplace is staying firmly in the public eye with the creation of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. Supported by over 300 actresses, agents, writers, directors, producers, and entertainment executives, including big names such Reece Witherspoon and Shonda Rhimes, the fund is administered by the National Women’s Law Center and is available to support harassment and retaliation lawsuits by women in all industries. The Time’s Up initiative was front and center at Sunday’s 2018 Golden Globes, where almost all female—and many male—stars wore all black or “Time’s Up” lapel pins to show solidarity with the victims of harassment and to bring awareness to the fund.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals just forced a public employer back into court to defend itself against a pay equity claim after a lower court had dismissed the lawsuit and cleared the employer from wrongdoing. In resurrecting the claim on behalf of three female employees, the appeals court created a more rigid standard of proof that will make it harder for employers to win pay equity claims and should incentivize businesses to examine their own compensation practices.

Tags: EEOC

A group of former Google employees just filed an amended complaint in California federal court in an attempt to breathe new life into their equal pay class action lawsuit, which had been dismissed in December for failing to sufficiently allege facts demonstrating an ascertainable class. The pay equity world will now have its collective eyes on Google to see how the company responds, and to follow the latest chapter in one of the most high-profile pay equity claims ever filed. 

Six months ago, the Oregon legislature passed the most sweeping statewide equal pay law in the nation. It was a confusing move for some. After all, Oregon has had an equal pay law on the books since the early 1980s, while the federal Equal Pay Act has been in place in 1963.

Tags: Oregon

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