In addition to the federal government’s national focus on the gender pay gap, individual states have recently been furthering their own agendas for addressing sex disparities in pay as well. Amendments to fair pay laws in both California and New York took effect in January 2016, increasing protections against sex-based wage discrimination. Since then, additional states have followed suit and taken steps to advance equal pay by signing into law more stringent standards for pay equity.
For example, governors in Connecticut, Missouri, Delaware, and Oregon have supported measures aimed at narrowing the gender wage gap by increasing the employer burden to justify pay disparities through non-work related defenses. Both Massachusetts and New Jersey have also passed bills through their Senates to increase protections that are now being considered by their Houses. Both include prohibition of discrimination based on performance of similar work, following the lead of the standards set in California.
Although the majority of states already have equal pay laws in place, this recent trend in amending toward more rigorous standards is important for employers to monitor. With this heightened focus on pay discrimination, it is increasingly critical for all employers to be proactive in analyzing compensation and explaining pay disparities in accordance with relevant state regulations.
By Jana Garman, Consultant, and Brittany Dian, Associate Consultant at DCI Consulting Group