Rogers, Legislature Pass Landmark Bill to Dismantle the Gender Wage Gap

Legislation will be the strongest pay equity statute in the nation
(BOSTON) – Representative John H. Rogers (D-Norwood/Walpole) and his colleagues in the legislature passed legislation to ensure that men and women receive equitable compensation for comparable work today. The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in the payment of wages for comparable work unless the variation is based upon a mitigating factor including seniority (provided that paternal, family, and medical leave don’t reduce seniority); a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue; education, training or experience.

Notably, the bill would prevents employers from requesting salary history in hiring, a measure designed to end the self-perpetuating cycle of wage disparity. Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to adopt such a provision. However, prospective employees would not be barred from voluntarily disclosing their past salaries.

“As a father of three daughters, the idea that they could one day get paid significantly less than their male counterparts for doing the same work is baffling to me” said Rogers. This legislation takes important steps toward leveling the playing field and ensuring that no woman may be discriminated against on the basis of her gender. This bill does not only affect women, but also families across the Commonwealth. With this vote, my hope is that we can continue to take steps forward toward true equality.”

In drafting this bill, the House of Representatives focused on building consensus to ensure that the legislation would be workable, effective and sustainable. Key to those efforts were defining “comparable work” and maintaining flexibility for performance-based compensation. The bill incentivizes companies to correct compensation disparities internally before going to court by creating three-year affirmative defense from liability. Within that time period employers must complete a self-evaluation of its pay practices and demonstrate reasonable progress in eliminating pay disparities.

It also:

• Prohibits employers from reducing salaries in order to comply with law.
• Prohibits an employer from preventing employees from talking about their salaries.

The legislation will take effect of July 1, 2018.

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