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Pay Equity Law

On August 1, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation (S.B. 2119) aimed at eliminating gender-based pay discrimination.

Pursuant to the law, an employer may not discriminate in any way on the basis of gender in the payment of wages, including benefits or other compensation, or pay any person a salary or wage rate less than the rates paid to employees of a different gender for comparable work; provided, however, that variations in wages, including benefits or other compensation are not prohibited if based upon any of the following:

  • A bona fide system that rewards seniority with the employer (however, time spent on leave due to a pregnancy-related condition and protected parental, family, and medical leave may not reduce seniority).
  • A bona fide merit system.
  • A bona fide system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production or sales.
  • The geographic location in which a job is performed.
  • Education, training, or experience to the extent such factors are reasonably related to the particular job in question and consistent with business necessity.
  • Travel, if the travel is a regular and necessary condition of the particular job.

Further, it is an unlawful practice for an employer to:

  • Require, as a condition of employment, that an employee refrain from inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing information about either the employee’s own wages, including benefits or other compensation, or about any other employee’s wages.
  • Screen job applicants based on their wage, including benefits or other compensation or salary histories, including by requiring that an applicant’s prior wages, including benefits or other compensation or salary history, satisfy minimum or maximum criteria; or request or require as a condition of being interviewed, or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment, that an applicant disclose prior wages or salary history.
  • Seek the salary history of any prospective employee from any current or former employer. However, a prospective employee may provide written authorization to a prospective employer to confirm prior wages, including benefits or other compensation or salary history only after any offer of employment with compensation has been made to the prospective employee;
  • Discharge or in any other manner retaliate against any employee because the employee:
    • Opposed any act or practice made unlawful by this law;
    • Made or is about to make a complaint or has caused or is about to cause to be instituted any proceeding under this law;
    • Testified or is about to testify, assist or participate in any manner in an investigation or proceeding under this law; or
    • Disclosed the employee’s wages, benefits, or other compensation or has inquired about or discussed the wages of any other employee.

An employer may not contract with an employee to subvert the law. However, an employer may prohibit a human resources employee, or any other employee whose job responsibilities require access to other employees’ compensation information, from disclosing such information without prior written consent from the employee whose information is sought or requested, unless the compensation information is a public record.

Employers are required to post a notice in their workplaces notifying employees of their rights under the law.

The law goes into effect on July 1, 2018.

Read MA S.B. 2119