Orrick partner Lauri Damrell collaborated with California Labor Commissioner Julie Su on a recent Op Ed column for the San Jose Mercury News outlining their joint efforts in California to address the gender pay gap. Damrell and Su are both members of the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, and their column discussed their recent launch of the California Pay Equity Task Force to encourage more collaboration between employers and employees in finding solutions to the high-profile issue.
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
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
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
Statistics reveal a difference of 7 percent between the remuneration paid to men and that paid to women with the same qualifications in Germany. The average hourly wage even shows a difference of 22 percent, making pay discrepancy in Germany one of the highest in the EU. In order to adjust these wage injustices, the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth submitted a first preliminary ministerial draft of the German Equal Pay Act (Entgeltgleichheitsgesetz) on December 9, 2015. The act is expected to be adopted in 2016.