Pay equity presents one of the fastest moving issues in the employment law landscape. Politicians have added the “Pay Gap” to their arsenal of campaign buzz words. The EEOC has proposed a major revision to the Employer Information Report requiring all employers with more than 100 employees to annually submit compensation data to the EEOC beginning in 2017. State legislatures are busy cranking out new and more stringent pay equity laws. The plaintiffs’ employment bar and state Attorneys’ General are taking steps to expand the scope of existing laws.

As the competition to pass the most aggressive state pay equity bill is underway, Illinois and multi-state employers who stay ahead of this trend will be in the best position to avoid litigation and enforcement actions.  Seyfarth’s Pay Equity Group is on top of these issues.

Pay Equity Guide

For employers, the legacy of 2016 may be the year of ground-breaking change to equal pay laws, as administrative agencies and states aggressively move forward to improve pay equity and enforce equal pay laws.

  • In January, new laws in California and New York fundamentally altered how equal pay claims are analyzed in those states, lowering the bar for an equal pay lawsuit.
  • In March, Nebraska’s governor approved an amendment to the state’s equal pay act, while a similar bill landed on the governor’s desk in New Jersey but was conditionally vetoed in May.
  • Also in May, Maryland’s Governor Hogan signed Senate Bill 481 (cross-filed with House Bill 1003), another state specific pay equity law. The law will go into effect in October.
  • In August, Massachusetts’ Governor Baker signed amendments to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act that will go into effect in July 2018.

Even before the California Fair Pay Act was signed into law in October, The Los Angeles Times wrote that it “may be the nation’s most aggressive attempt yet to close the salary gap between men and women.”

Three weeks after that law took effect, one bill in New York’s eight-bill package known as the “Women’s Equality Agenda” expanded protections for women in the workplace.

These new laws focus squarely on pay inequality between the sexes. Yet both federal and state laws already prohibit gender-based pay discrimination. On a federal level, the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbid employers from discriminating in pay and benefits based on sex. And like many states, both California and New York already have statutes addressing pay discrimination by gender.

What’s new about these laws is the reach.