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.”
Clayton Patrick Flaherty
Clay Flaherty is a member of Orrick's Employment Law & Litigation group at the Global Operations Center (GOC) in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Orrick’s Employment Law and Litigation group was recently named Labor & Employment Department of the Year in California by The Recorder, Employment Practice Group of the Year by Law360, and a finalist for The American Lawyer's Employment Litigation Department of the Year.
At the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Flaherty was appointed Managing Editor of the Webby Award-winning student publication, JURIST, and as a senior editor of the University of Pittsburgh Journal of Technology Law & Policy. Immediately following graduation, Flaherty clerked for the Hon. David N. Wecht in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, where he was the lead draftsman of dozens of opinions. After the conclusion of the one-year clerkship, Flaherty worked as field director of Justice Wecht's successful electoral campaign for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 2015.
Posts by: Clayton Flaherty
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.”
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).
Today marks the twentieth anniversary of “Equal Pay Day,” which the National Committee on Pay Equity launched as a public awareness event in 1996 to symbolize how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. In more than 50 years since enactment of the federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), women have made significant progress in the workplace and now make up roughly half of the American workforce. However, women working full time still earn, on average, 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, and this number has barely moved in over a decade. That said, it is still not clear that employer bias is to blame for the gap that remains. Indeed, the pay gap measures only the difference in average earnings between all men and all women; it is not a proxy for pay bias—i.e., the failure to pay women equal pay for equal work. Eliminating pay bias is important, but focusing heavily on perceived employer bias obscures a much more complex web of factors contributing to the problem of pay differences between men and women.