Overview: Under the Equal Pay Act (EPA) as well as state and local fair pay laws, men and women are required to receive equal pay for equal work. Generally, the jobs do not have to be identical, but need to be substantially equal in terms of skill, effort and job responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. The term pay pertains to not just salary, but also overtime, bonuses, vacation and holiday pay, stock options, life insurance and all other benefits and compensation of any kind paid to employees. Employers can defend a claim of wage discrimination under a seniority system, merit system, a system measuring earnings by quality or quantity of production or if wages were set based on a factor other than sex. Title VII further prohibits wage discrimination.
Trends:The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is committed to eradicating wage discrimination, increasing pay transparency and enforcing equal pay laws and it has identified these efforts as a priority in its Strategic Enforcement Plans.
At the state and local level, there also is a renewed focus on equal pay laws. Some wage discrimination laws expand the classes protected while others seek to achieve pay transparency by prohibiting employers from banning employees from discussing their salaries with each other. Several states and municipalities have enacted laws prohibiting an employer from asking prospective employees about prior salary history or wages, as this may perpetuate an existing wage gap.
Author: Beth P. Zoller, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to include information on the forthcoming Comply with Equal Pay Laws task and our Comply with State and Local Equal Pay Laws Checklist.
Many states have enacted laws pertaining to equal pay and wage disclosure. To help employers comply with these laws, XpertHR has added a new 50-state chart.
This chart provides details about state laws that mandate equal pay and address wage disclosure.
Updated to include distribution specifications, effective June 25, 2018.
Hawaii governor David Ige signed a flurry of bills into law on July 5, including several affecting employers. The measures included a salary history inquiry ban, a law preserving certain Affordable Care Act benefits under state law, authorization for a study to analyze and propose a paid family leave law, and a bill increasing certain workers' compensation benefits.
Fisher Phillips employment attorney Cheryl Pinarchick, reviews existing salary history bans to help employers comply with evolving areas of the law and eliminate confusion in regards to compensation.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an employee's prior salary cannot justify a pay gap between men and women for performing similar work.
Michigan has passed a law expressly prohibiting its local governments from passing ordinances banning salary history requests.
HR Guidance on developing policies and practices to eliminate pay discrimination.