Governor Baker signs equal pay legislative update
Governor Baker has signed the legislation that amends the current Massachusetts Equal Pay Law, M.G.L. c. 149, s. 105A.
But, you may ask, I thought it already was illegal not to pay men and women the same for the same job?
It is. What this legislation does, among other things, is to make it illegal to pay men and women differently for "comparable work” -- not just the same job. Comparable work here means "work that is substantially similar in that it requires substantially similar skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions...." As is typically the case in employment law, however, exceptions apply; thus, please consult an employment lawyer to discuss your specific situation.
Why the change? I addressed this in a prior blog post earlier this year. The hope among equal pay advocates is to try to bring into pay alignment jobs that have been traditionally viewed as women's work with jobs that have been traditionally seen as men's work to the extent that they require substantially similar skill, effort, responsibility and are performed under similar conditions.
There are other aspects to the law as well, including taking on bans that prohibit employees from talking about their pay and providing a defense to employers who affirmatively self-audit their payroll for unequal pay in reasonable detail and scope and consistent with any standards of the Massachusetts Attorney General.
Given that this law was just signed, the Mass AG has yet to release specific auditing guidelines. For seven years, however, through 2014 I worked almost every day with some sort of wage audit at the AG's Office, using them to enforce a variety of state wage laws. They can be very complicated, particularly if there are multiple legal issues and many employees, and are best approached by someone with deep expertise with them.
If you need help on a wage audit or further advice on an equal pay situation, contact me for an employment law consultation.