The federal US Department of Labor (USDOL) recently settled a matter with the employer LexisNexis Risk Solutions where after an investigation, they determined there was "a significant difference" paid to women verses men in the same role at two separate company locations.
According to a USDOL press release:
Two separate investigations by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found that, as of December 2012 and continuing thereafter, LexisNexis paid 26 female employees in Operational Leadership jobs substantially less than males employed in the same jobs in Boca Raton, Florida.
OFCCP’s investigations further found that, as of December 2012, LexisNexis paid 185 female employees in Operational Leadership jobs substantially less than their male counterparts in Alpharetta, Georgia. The agency found a significant difference in pay in both locations even after taking into account legitimate factors that affect pay level.
The company agreed to pay more than $1.2 million in back pay and interest to the affected women.
The federal agency investigation arose through USDOL's team that is responsible for ensuring proper wages paid on federal contracts. The press release noted that during fiscal years 2015 and 2016, the company had millions of dollars in contracts with many federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation and Labor; the Office of Personnel Management; and the General Services Administration.
Equal pay laws do not, however, only apply to federal contracts. In July 2016, the Massachusetts legislature passed amendments tightening up the existing state Equal Pay Act.
That law forbids an employer from discriminating "in any way in the payment of wages as between the sexes, or pay any person in his employ salary or wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for work of like or comparable character or work on like or comparable operations...." M.G.L. c. 149, s. 105A.
What "comparable character or work" means is in flux between now and when the new amendments go into effect on July 1, 2018.
Doorways Employment Law is a virtual employment law practice, leveraging the power of technology to connect with clients in the most efficient, convenient and cost-effective way possible. It specializes in employment law counseling, strategic advice and representation to individuals and businesses across Massachusetts. Contact Doorways if you have concerns about equal pay.