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Equal Pay Bill Passes On Beacon Hill

Published:  July 25, 2016

On Saturday, the Massachusetts House and Senate unanimously enacted An Act to Establish Pay Equity (the “Bill”), which aims to ensure that men and women are paid equally 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 on legitimate reasons such as seniority, education, training, experience, or a bona fide merit system like one that measures earnings by sales.

The Bill amends the current Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA), M.G.L. c. 149, § 105A, in the following ways:

  • Prohibits employers from disciplining employees for discussing their own wages or wages of co-workers;
  • Prohibits employers from maintaining confidentiality policies that cover compensation;
  • Requires employers to post a notice about pay transparency obligations;
  • Extends the statute of limitations for filing claims of discrimination under MEPA from one to three years;
  • Allows employers that conduct self-evaluations of their pay practices to use those evaluations as an affirmative defense in pay discrimination claims;
  • Prohibits self-evaluations and any steps taken by employers to close pay gaps from being used as evidence of a violation of pay equity.

The Bill also amends the state antidiscrimination statute, M.G.L. c. 151B, to add the following provisions:

  • Requires employers when advertising jobs to include the minimum the job pays;
  • Makes it unlawful for an employer to pay wages less than the amount advertised in a job posting;
  • Makes it unlawful for an employer to use salary history in hiring;
  • Incorporates the pay transparency provisions of MEPA as a violation of Chapter 151B.

The legislation, which is now on Governor Charlie Baker’s desk for signing, would take effect July 1, 2018.

If you have any questions regarding the Bill or wage equality issues please contact any of the attorneys at Royal, P.C.