On July 1, 2018, the new Massachusetts Equal Pay Act takes effect. The Office of the Attorney General has published an overview of the new law and answers to frequently asked questions which is available online.
The Act updates and replaces M.G.L. c. 149, Section 105A. Some key provisions of the Act are the following:
- Employers may not prohibit employees from discussing their wages
- Employers may not require prospective employees to disclose their wage or salary history
- Employers may pay different wages to men and women doing comparable work based only on one or more of six specified factors (seniority, merit, production / sales, geographic location, education/ training / experience, and/or travel requirements).
In some circumstances, an employer that undertakes a good faith, reasonable self-evaluation and is making reasonable progress eliminating unlawful gender-based wage differentials may have an affirmative defense.
Comparable work is work requiring substantially similar skill, effort and responsibility, and is performed under similar working conditions. What is or is not similar may require a case-by-case determination, as will, e.g., relative merit. Needless to say, employees and employers will continue to spar over whether such determinations were unlawfully biased and whether efforts to eliminate unlawful disparities were reasonable, undertaken in good faith and timely. Standby for more!