On July 2, 2015, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed “An Act Concerning Pay Equity and Fairness” into law. The law, which went into effect immediately, applies to all Connecticut employers, regardless of size. The law is intended to create wage transparency by allowing employees to voluntarily discuss their wages with other employees or third parties.

The Act specifically bars employers from:

  • Prohibiting an employee from disclosing, inquiring about, or discussing the amount of his or her wages or the wages of another employee;
  • Requiring an employee to sign a waiver or other document that purports to deny the employee his or her right to disclose, inquire about, or discuss the amount of his or her wages or the wages of another employee; or
  • Discharging, disciplining, discriminating against, retaliating against or otherwise penalizing any employee who discloses, inquires about, or discusses the amount of his or her wages or the wages of another employee. While the Act aims to encourage transparency, it does not require employers or employees to disclose the amount of wages paid to any employee.

The Act creates a private right of action for workers who believe their employer has violated the law. Potential damages include compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, costs, and equitable relief.

Many employees already receive protection to engage in pay discussions under the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRA, however, excludes certain managerial and supervisory employees from its protection. The Connecticut Act not only includes all employees, but reaches additional workers by defining employee as “any individual … permitted to work by an employer.”

Twelve other states, including New Jersey, have passed similar statutes and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign comparable legislation that the New York state legislature recently passed.

Employers should review policies to ensure compliance with the Act.