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Self-Audit Under the New Massachusetts Equal Pay Act

Published:  June 4, 2018


As employers are aware, the amendments to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) come online on July 1, 2018. A new MEPA provision that employers need to be aware of is the defense MEPA will allow for a good faith self-audit designed to determine whether it had any disparities in pay. 

The basic premise of the MEPA amendments is equal pay for comparable work. The MEPA standard is not equal pay for equal work, but rather the broadly termed “comparable work”. MEPA defines “comparable work” as involving substantially similar skill, substantially similar effort, and substantially similar responsibility being performed under similar working conditions. This will necessarily make any claimed violation of the new MEPA provisions a fact specific inquiry as to what the specific job duties of the individual employee are.

An employer can defend itself against a claim under the new MEPA provisions by showing that it has engaged in a self-audit of its pay practice. Pursuant to MEPA, the employer’s self-audit has to be reasonable in scope and, further, demonstrate that the employer has taken good faith steps to remedy any violations that the self-audit has revealed. The timing of the self-audit is also important. The audit has to be conducted within the previous three (3) years, and must also be before a lawsuit is filed.

Whether the self-audit is “reasonable in scope”, along with the initial “comparable work” standard, will be a fact specific inquiry based upon the specific instances of each employer. If an employer wants to avail itself of the potential self-audit defense, it should do so as soon as possible in light of the July 1, 2018 effective date.  Employers also need to be aware that, while a self-audit cannot be used against the employer under MEPA, it is possible that the self-audit could be used against the employer under other employment statutes.

Royal, P.C. is here to guide you through the self-audit process. Please contact us if you would like our help and to work with us to conduct a pay equity audit for your business!

If you have any questions regarding the amendments to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, how to perform a self-audit, or any other aspects of labor and employment law, please contact the attorneys at Royal, P.C.