Category Archives: Equal Pay Act

NEW GUIDANCE: California Pay Equity Task Force Issues Guidelines for Complying with the California Equal Pay Act

In January 2016, SB 358, the amended version of the California Equal Pay Act, took effect. The California Equal Pay Act requires all California employers pay the same wage to employees who perform “substantially similar work” the same wage regardless of gender, ethnicity or race.   Under this law, employers are also required to provide an applicant with a pay scale for a position following a “reasonable request.”  Finally, it prohibits employers from requesting an applicant’s prior salary history and from relying on an applicant’s salary history alone to justify a disparity in compensation “based on sex, race or ethnicity.”

Following the effective date of the amended California Equal Pay Act, the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls launched a Pay Equity Task Force tasked with the responsibility of monitoring the implementation of the new law.  Recently, this task force issued written guidance for employees, employers and unions on how they may comply with the California Equal Pay Act. Continue reading NEW GUIDANCE: California Pay Equity Task Force Issues Guidelines for Complying with the California Equal Pay Act

NEW GUIDANCE: Final Rules Regarding Oregon’s Equal Pay Law Issued

On November 19, 2018, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries released its final administrative rules interpreting the Oregon Equal Pay Law.  These rules are intended to help employers comply with the Oregon’s Equal Pay Law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2019.

As we previously reported (in NEW LAW – Oregon’s New Equal Pay Act), the Oregon’s Equal Pay Law prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of protected class (i.e. race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability, or age) and it also prohibits employers from using an applicant’s salary history as a screening tool for open positions and/or as a determining factor in an employee’s wages.  Under this law, employers can only inquire about an applicant’s salary history after making a job offer that includes a compensation amount. Continue reading NEW GUIDANCE: Final Rules Regarding Oregon’s Equal Pay Law Issued

NEW FORMS: New Jersey Publishes Equal Pay Data Reporting Forms

Last month, New Jersey’s Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act went into effect. This law amended the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination by making it a prohibited employment practice for an employer to compensate an employee who is a member of a “protected class” less than the amount paid to employees who are not members of that protected class for “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility.”

Among other things, the law also imposes pay reporting requirements on employers that contract with a public body to provide “public work” or other “qualifying services.”  To help affected employers comply with these reporting requirements, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development recently published the mandatory reporting forms (the Payroll Certification for Public Works Projects form and the Annual Equal Pay Report for Qualifying Services Other than Public Works Projects form) employers must use to comply with these new reporting requirements. Instructions for completing both forms were also published.

NEW LAW: California Clarifies Salary History Ban

On July 18, 2019, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2282.  This bill, which goes into effect on January 1, 2019, amends California’s salary history ban law and attempts to clarify certain provisions of that law.  It also clarifies the California Equal Pay Act.

First, the new law defines the following terms:

  • “Applicant” or “applicant for employment”:  An individual who is seeking employment with the employer and is not currently employed with that employer in any capacity or position.
  • “Pay scale”: A salary or hourly wage range.
  • “Reasonable request”: A request made after an applicant has completed an initial interview with the employer.

Continue reading NEW LAW: California Clarifies Salary History Ban

NEW LAW: Hawaii Passes Pay Transparency and Salary History Ban

On July 5, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed Senate Bill 2351 into law.  With this new law, Hawaii is the 7th state to implement a salary history ban and the 14th state to implement a pay transparency law.  The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2019.

Under the new law, starting January 1st, Hawaii employers will be prohibited from:

  • asking a job applicant about his or her salary history or
  • relying on the applicant’s salary history in determining salary, benefits, or other compensation

during the hiring process or negotiation of an employment contract.

Continue reading NEW LAW: Hawaii Passes Pay Transparency and Salary History Ban

New Jersey Enacts Equal Pay Law

On April 24, 2018, New Jersey enacted one of the toughest equal pay laws in the nation.  Effective July 1, 2018, New Jersey’s equal pay law will prohibit payment to any employee who is a member of a “protected class” at a rate of compensation, including benefits, which is less than the rate paid to employees who are not members of the protected class for substantially similar work.   Given its broad application, New Jersey’s law will likely require additional oversight by employers of their hiring and pay practices.

Nearly Limitless Application

New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act differs from other state and federal equal pay laws in that it will apply to all protected classes as defined under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).  Specifically, the law will make it unlawful for an employer to pay an employee of one protected class at a rate of compensation that is less than the rate paid to an employee who is not a member of the same protected class for substantially similar work.

Continue reading New Jersey Enacts Equal Pay Law

Washington Expands Equal Pay Protections

In a major revision of the state’s anti-discrimination law, Washington has passed amendments to its Equal Pay Act to address income disparities, employer discrimination and retaliation practices in the state.  The amendment will make it a misdemeanor for an employer to discriminate in providing compensation based on the gender of similarly employed employees.  With an effective date of June 7, 2018, employers should begin preparations to comply with these significant changes in the law.

What the New Law Does

Key amendments to Washington’s Equal Pay law include: Continue reading Washington Expands Equal Pay Protections

NEW LAW: California Passes Salary History Ban

Attention California employers … on October 12, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 168 into law.  In short, this new law amends the California Fair Pay Law by prohibiting all California employers from inquiring into an applicant’s salary history starting January 1, 2018.

Specifically, under the new law, all California employers are required to follow these rules during the hiring process:

  • Employers cannot use (rely on) the salary history information of an applicant when determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or
  • Employers cannot use (rely on) the salary history information of an applicant when determining what salary to offer an applicant.
  • Employers cannot seek salary history information, including compensation and benefits, about an applicant.
  • Upon reasonable request, employers must provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant applying for employment.

It is important to note that the law does not prohibit an applicant from voluntarily disclosing salary history information to a prospective employer. If an applicant voluntarily and, without prompting, discloses salary history information to a prospective employer, the law does not prohibit that employer from considering the voluntarily disclosed salary history information.

Next step for employers

California employers should review this new law and provide training to those people involved in the hiring process about the new requirements, as these new requirements impact the interview process.  In addition, all California employers should review their job applications and verify that any inquiries regarding prior salary history or wage rates are removed from the application before January 1st.

Proposed Amendments to Illinois Equal Pay Act Vetoed

On August 25, 2017, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed proposed amendments to the Illinois Equal Pay Act (House Bill 2462).

Had they been passed into law, these amendments would have prohibited Illinois employers from inquiring into a job applicant’s salary history.  In addition, Illinois employers would have been prohibited from:

  • Requiring an employee to sign a contract in which the employee agrees to keep his/her wages secret;
  • Screening applicants based on their wage or salary history (i.e. employers would not be able to ask applicants to disclose their prior wages or salary at any step in the hiring process, nor could they require that an applicant’s prior wages satisfy minimum or maximum criteria); or
  • Asking an applicant’s current or former employer about their prior wages, unless the applicant was a current employee applying for a new position with the employer or the applicant’s wage or salary history was a matter of public record.

Luckily for Illinois employers, these amendments will not be going into effect.  Instead, Illinois employers must adhere to the existing Illinois Equal Pay Act.

Under existing law, Illinois employers cannot pay wages to an employee at a lower rate than that of an employee of the opposite sex if the work:

  • Is the same or substantially similar.
  • Requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility.
  • Is performed under similar working conditions.

However, employers may pay different wage rates under either a:

  • Seniority system.
  • Merit system.
  • System that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.
  • Differential based on any other factor other than:
    • sex; or
    • a factor that would constitute unlawful discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Illinois employers also cannot:

  • Interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise any right provided under the Illinois Equal Pay Act (IEPA).
  • Discharge or discriminate against any individual for:
    • inquiring about, disclosing, comparing, or otherwise discussing the employee’s wages or the wages of any other employee;
    • aiding or encouraging any person to exercise the person’s rights under the IEPA;
    • filing a charge under the IEPA;
    • instituting or causing to be instituted a proceeding under or related to the IEPA;
    • providing information in connection with an inquiry or proceeding under the IEPA; or
    • testifying in an inquiry or proceeding under the IEPA.

NEW LAW – Oregon’s New Equal Pay Act

Oregon’s Equal Pay Act (House Bill 2005) was recently signed into law. This new law amends the existing Oregon Equal Pay Act is intended to better address equal pay discrepancies among women, minorities, and other protected class employees.

Under the new law, it is unlawful for an employer to:

  1. Discriminate between employees on the basis of a protected class in the payment of wages or other compensation for work of comparable character;
  2. Pay wages or other compensation to any employee at a rate greater than that at which the employer pays to employees of a protected class for work of a comparable character;
  3. Screen job applicants based on current or past compensations; or
  4. Determine compensation for a position based on current or past compensation of a prospective employee.

In addition, the new law also prohibits employers from asking applicants or current employees about their salary history until after the employer makes an offer of employment to the prospective employee that includes an amount of compensation.

Key Terms

The Equal Pay Act defines the following key terms:

  • “Protected class” means a group of persons distinguished by race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability or age.
  • “Wages” means all compensation for performance of service by an employee for an employer, whether paid by the employer or another person, or paid in cash or any medium other than cash.
  • “Working conditions” includes work environment, hours, time of day, physical surroundings and potential hazards encountered by an employee.
  • “Work of comparable character” means work that requires substantially similar knowledge, skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions in the performance of work, regardless of job description or job title.

Pay Differentials Permissible Under Certain Circumstances

The new law does allow employers to pay employees for work of comparable character at different compensation levels if all of the difference in compensation levels is based on a bona fide factor that is related to the position in question and is based on:

  • A seniority system;
  • A merit system;
  • A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, including piece-rate work;
  • Workplace locations;
  • Travel, if travel is necessary and regular for the employee;
  • Education;
  • Training;
  • Experience; or
  • Any combination of the factors described in this subsection, if the combination of factors accounts for the entire compensation differential.

Notice Requirements

Employers will be required to post a notice of the Equal Pay Act’s requirements. The Bureau of Labor and Industries will be making a template available to employers which meets the statutory requirements.

Timeline for Implementation

While the new law goes into effect on September 1, 2017, only portions of the law go into effect at that time. Specifically, starting in September 2017, the employers will no longer be allowed to seek salary history from applicants or current employees.

On January 1, 2019, most of the Equal Pay Act’s provisions expanding protections go into effect. This includes requiring posted notice and making it unlawful to pay different wages, screen job applicants, or determine compensation based on an applicant’s current or past compensation.

On January 1, 2024, employees will have a right of action against employers that seek an applicant’s or current employee’s salary history.