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Posts by: Christopher Wilkinson

EEOC Announces Final Rule on Equal Pay Disclosures

Yesterday, the EEOC announced that it had finalized a regulation that will increase disclosure requirements regarding employee compensation for thousands of businesses. The new rule, which we’ve blogged about previously, requires all businesses with 100 or more workers to submit pay data by gender, race and ethnicity on their EEO-1 forms. Specifically, employers will now need to provide:

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GAO Report on OFCCP Cites Concerns Regarding Inconsistent Investigations, Lack of Staff Training and Contractor Selection Process

The Government Accounting Office recently released a report on the DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The report notes several concerns related to the Agency’s contractor selection process, investigator training and compliance assistance efforts. Further, the report details many of the concerns voiced by contractors regarding inconsistency in investigations and contractors’ overall distrust of the Agency in compliance assistance efforts. OFCCP received a draft of the report and, in its response to the draft report, agreed with some of the recommendations related to changes in the selection process and better monitoring of contactors for AAP compliance.   Further, the Agency noted its efforts to improve training and compliance assistance.

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Massachusetts Signs Into Law Far Reaching Pay Equity Bill

On August 1, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a pay equity bill which the Massachusetts Legislature passed by unanimous vote on July 23, 2016. The pay equity act is one of the strongest and most unique in the nation.  Chief among the unique features is the prohibition on the use of prior salary in setting compensation and an affirmative defense for employers who conduct pay audits.  The legislation differs from the federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) and other recent state pay equity laws, including California and Maryland, in several ways.

Comparable Work Presents a Broader Standard

The EPA requires that men and women in the same workplace receive equal pay for “equal work.” “Equal work” means their jobs need not be identical, but “substantially equal.”  The newly passed Massachusetts legislation only requires “comparable work,” meaning work that is substantially similar in that it requires substantially similar skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions.  Thus, the legislation will give employees a larger pool of “comparator jobs” to point to should they feel underpaid in relation to their gender opposites.  In fact, the “comparable work” standard appears to be similar to the broader-based standard used in pay-disparity claims under Title VII, except that Title VII also requires proof of intent.  Recent Maryland and California laws also expand the pool of comparators. READ MORE

EEOC Provides Second Bite of the Apple on EEO-1 Report Proposal

The EEOC has provided a second chance to comment on its proposed revisions to the EEO-1 form.  The revised proposal does not change the EEOC’s insistence on collecting pay and hours worked data and does not fully respond to employers’ concerns regarding the burden and usefulness of collecting the data.  Rather, the EEOC revised the report to change the due dates to coordinate reporting of demographic and additional data beginning in March 2018.  The comment period for the revised proposal closes August 15, 2016.

The EEOC’s efforts arise from the government’s larger efforts to enforce pay equity through a series of reporting, enforcement and voluntary initiatives.  This reporting initiative follows a now-abandoned effort by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to obtain pay data in an equal pay report.  EEOC has joined with OFCCP to collect and share pay data to bolster its reporting and enforcement efforts.

On January 29, 2016, the EEOC asked the Office of Management and Budget to approve a change to the EEO-1 form.  As discussed in more detail here, EEOC proposed that beginning in September 2017, EEO-1 filers with 100 or more employees would be required to submit EEO-1 data to include aggregated W-2 pay and hours worked data.  The Agency scheduled hearings and invited various stakeholders including Orrick’s Gary Siniscalco to testify regarding the proposal.  Orrick’s testimony can be found here. READ MORE

White House Announces “Equal Pay Pledge” to Coincide with United State of Women Summit

The federal government announced yesterday that it was stepping up its equal pay efforts.  Coinciding with “The White House United State of Women” summit being held in Washington D.C., the White House announced several initiatives including new Department of Labor rules regarding sex discrimination for federal contractors and grant programs for job training.  The White House also unveiled a White House Equal Pay Pledge.  The pledge is part of a voluntary program in which 28 corporations to date have agreed to conduct “an annual company-wide gender pay analysis across occupations,” to “review[] hiring and promotion processes and procedures to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers,” and “to embed[] equal pay efforts into broader enterprise-wide equity initiatives.”

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Updated Maps: States With Equal Pay Protections and Pending Equal Pay Legislation

As we noted in a previous post, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act of 2016 (“Equal Pay Act”) into law on May 19, 2016 (effective on October 1, 2016). With the passage of this new law, Maryland joins New York and California in the category of states with some of the country’s most expansive equal pay protections. Included below are our updated maps of states with equal pay protections and  of states with equal pay protections and states with pending equal pay legislation.

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Maryland Takes the Lead in Aggressive State Equal Pay Legislation

Last week, Maryland became the most recent state to expand its equal pay protections, when Governor Larry Hogan signed the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act of 2016 (“Equal Pay Act”) into law.  Maryland joins states like New York and California, which have some of the country’s most expansive equal pay protections. Unlike New York and California, Maryland’s law was signed by a Republican governor, which establishes that equal pay efforts have crossed party lines.  The new law introduces two new features into the equal pay fray: gender identity and “work of comparable character.”

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Maryland’s Amendment Would Expand Equal Pay to Include “Gender Identity,” Strengthen Protections Along Other More Familiar Lines

As we noted in last week’s coverage of Equal Pay Day’s twentieth anniversary, the issue of equal pay has been drawing increasing attention from regulators, legislators and plaintiffs’ attorneys nationwide.  Of particular note, a report issued in January 2016 by the National Women’s Law Center highlighted the unprecedented level of new equal pay legislation at the state level. Leading this wave of activity, both New York’s Achieve Pay Equity law and California’s Fair Pay Act law have in place the broadest protections for employees seeking to bring gender-based equal pay claims.  Additionally, a number of other states have adopted piecemeal legislation addressing equal pay, such as prohibiting employer retaliation based on employee discussions of wages (Connecticut, New Hampshire, Oregon), holding state contractors responsible for certifying their equal pay compliance (Delaware, Minnesota, Oregon), increasing civil penalties for equal pay violations (Illinois), or requiring employers to maintain wage records in anticipation of potential state government inquiries (North Dakota).

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