Legislation will be the strongest pay equity statute in the nation
(BOSTON) – Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature have passed a measure to ensure that men and women receive equitable compensation for comparable work. The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in the payment of wages for comparable work unless the variation is based upon a mitigating factor including seniority; a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue; education, training or experience.
Notably, the bill would prevent employers from requesting salary history in hiring, a measure designed to end the self-perpetuating cycle of wage disparity. Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to adopt such a provision. However, prospective employees would not be barred from voluntarily disclosing their past salaries.
“Closing the gender wage gap is not just a matter of fairness and justice for women; it is a matter of economic security for working families,” said DiDomenico, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and a cosponsor of the original pay equity bill. “Many women are now the primary or sole earners in their families, making it more important than ever to ensure pay equity for everyone, regardless of gender. With the passage of this legislation, my colleagues and I in Massachusetts Legislature have taken a historic step to protect women from workplace discrimination and to ensure pay equity for all residents of the Commonwealth.”
“The Senate put pay equity on the Legislative agenda in January and I am pleased that we will soon move this compromise bill to the Governor’s desk. This bill will protect women from discrimination in the workplace and close the gender pay gap,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “I thank my colleagues in both the Senate and House for taking on this important issue for the people of the Commonwealth.”
This bill represents a consensus-based effort to ensure that the legislation would be practical, effective and sustainable. Key to those efforts were defining “comparable work” and maintaining flexibility for performance-based compensation. The bill incentivizes companies to correct compensation disparities internally before going to court by creating three-year affirmative defense from liability. Within that time period employers must complete a self-evaluation of its pay practices and demonstrate reasonable progress in eliminating pay disparities.
The legislation also prohibits employers from reducing salaries in order to comply with law and from preventing employees from talking about their salaries.
The legislation will take effect of July 1, 2018. It will now go to the Governor for his consideration.