On October 6, 2016, the coalition committee of the German government parties agreed on the planned Equal Pay Act (Entgeltgleichheitsgesetz). We described the first draft of the Equal Pay Act submitted by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth in our blog post earlier this year.
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.
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:
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.
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.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has introduced before the New York City Council an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law, which, if enacted, would prohibit employers from requesting or relying upon the salary history of an prospective employee in making starting salary and other pay decisions. In the bill summary, Public Advocate James and her co-sponsors conclude that when employers rely upon historical salary information, “they perpetuate the gender wage gap” and suggest that this legislation would “help break the cycle of gender pay inequity.” New York City’s proposed legislation follows closely on the heels of a wide-reaching pay equity statute recently enacted in Massachusetts that includes a prohibition on employers requesting or requiring applicants to provide their salary history.
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.”