Pay Equity: The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963. The law prohibits a covered employer from discriminating on the basis of sex in the payment of wages to employees working within the same "establishment." But establishment is not defined. The EEOC's website reads, "The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work." So here we are 54 years later still trying to figure this out and get it right. Current headlines still report alleged violations of the law.
Now states and local jurisdictions are taking action passing laws that might sound duplicative but often expand the law. In my home state of Maryland a related law was passed last year. In short, it requires equal pay for equal work performed by employees at the same "location." Location includes any locations of the employer that are in the same county. But US census data and wage surveys show that the number of qualified men and women for the same job vary within the same county as does market-based wage data. So when an employer runs an ad for the same job at each of its two locations in that county, hires a well-qualified candidate and pays a market-competitive rate - BAM! - it is going to look as if the employer has engaged in pay discrimination.
Pay secrecy. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives all non-supervisory employees, union or non-union the right to discuss their pay with one another. An employer cannot properly tell employees or imply in a policy that pay is private, secret or otherwise discourage employees from discussing their pay with one another. Some states are taking this a step further and barring employers from asking an applicant about how much money he or she currently makes. So current compensation is a secret for the employee and about which the employer may not ask. But once hired, pay is no longer a secret and the employer cannot ask employees to not discuss with one another what the employer pays them.
Pay Transparency. Wait, some states are taking this another step further and requiring employers to publish the pay rate when advertising for a job and prohibiting the payment of a wage lower than the advertised wage. So the employer must be transparent and accurate regarding wages in a job announcement. That may be tricky since the wage paid to any particular employee is often determined I
within a range and based on a variety of factors.
What's the Point?
- Understand the Power of Why. Of all charges filed with the EEOC last fiscal year, only 1.2% alleged a violation of the Equal Pay Act. Engage in a dialogue with elected officials and advocates to understand why this matter is important to them and if it is more so that so many other issues facing workers today.
- The devil is in the detail. Be sure you read and understand pending legislation before it becomes a law.
- Advocate. If the proposed law will adversely impact you, Advocate! Let your business or HR voice be heard.
- Want to learn more about these trends? Join FiveL Company's next webcast, March 22nd 10:00 - 11:15 a.m. EDT.