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.”
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).