Just less than a year ago, California adopted the Fair Pay Act (“FPA”), which took effect on January 1, 2016 and created some of the strongest equal pay protections in the nation. On September 30, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills that expand the law even further.
In an emerging trend, law firms have found themselves the targets of recent lawsuits alleging gender discrimination against female partners. Most recently, Kerrie Campbell, a litigation partner at Chadbourne & Parke’s Washington, D.C. office filed a $100 million proposed class action lawsuit on behalf of all female partners at the firm. She alleges that Chadbourne’s male-dominated culture leads to unequal compensation for women. The lawsuit, filed on August 31, 2016, in federal district court in New York, seeks relief under Title VII, the Federal Equal Pay Act, and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.
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.
What many were hoping would bring clarity to California’s Fair Pay Act, further left employers in the dark on how to interpret the Act.
On April 29, 2015, Plaintiff Lynne Coates filed a class action lawsuit against Farmers alleging gender discrimination claims under Title VII and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, as well as violations of the federal and California equal pay acts and California’s Private Attorneys General Act. Coates claimed that Farmers systematically discriminated against female attorney employees and that its “common compensation and promotion policies and practices resulted in lower pay and unequal promotions for female attorneys.”
As California employers adjust to recent amendments to the state’s Equal Pay Act, additional changes are looming. As we reported here, last year, California adopted the Fair Pay Act, which provides new pay equity provisions related to employees of the opposite sex. Those amendments took effect on January 1, 2016. Now, California lawmakers are setting their sights on pay disparities based on race and ethnicity. On February 16, 2016, California Senator Isadore Hall III (D-South Bay) introduced Senate Bill 1063, known as the Wage Equality Act of 2016 (“SB 1063”), which seeks to expand pay equity requirements beyond sex to include race and ethnicity.
The California legislature played an active role in 2015 by enacting new rules and amendments in many employment areas. The following covers some of the key highlights, some of which became effective on January 1, 2016.
With Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, California officially amended its equal pay legislation through the California Fair Pay Act (the Act) to include more employee-friendly provisions. The Act, which now creates the nation’s strongest equal pay protections, seeks to close the pay gap in California. The Act may serve as a model for legislation in other states and supporters are even hopeful the Act’s passage may finally push Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has been introduced in Congress every year since 1994 and upon which California’s legislation was based.
Just in time for Women’s History Month, California State Senator and Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, Hannah-Beth Jackson, introduced Senate Bill 358 (SB 358), which seeks to narrow the gender pay gap in California. Citing best supporting actress Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar acceptance speech where she called for, “wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women,” Senator Jackson hopes to turn that rallying cry into concrete legislation in California.
Last week President Obama continued his administration’s push to tackle pay equity issues by taking executive action to put federal contractors’ compensation practices under greater scrutiny. On April 8, 2014, the President signed a memorandum and executive order designed to address race and gender-based disparities in compensation. The memorandum directs the Department of Labor (“DOL”) to propose a rule within 120 days requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to submit “summary data” on employee compensation by race and sex to the DOL using a “tool” to be developed by the agency. The executive order signed along with the memorandum bans federal contractors from retaliating against employees for discussing their compensation with each another in an effort to “enhance the ability of Federal contractors and their employees to detect and remediate unlawful discriminatory practices” in pay. READ MORE