State of the States: Equal Pay Measures Hit Reality Check

November 10, 2017

Pay equity measures in California and Illinois were downed by gubernatorial vetoes as Michigan's State Senate advanced a bill that would prevent localities from adopting or enforcing laws regulating salary history and criminal background checks. 

Pay Equity (California; Illinois; Albany County, NY; Philadelphia, PA)  According to Littler's most recent State of the States Report, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the Gender Pay Gap Transparency Act (AB 1209), which would have required large employers (with 500 or more employees in the state) to begin collecting and providing the Secretary of State with information relating to "gender pay differentials."  On the other hand, California's AB 168, which prohibits employers from relying on an applicant's prior salary history "as a factor in determining whether to offer employment . . . or what salary to offer an applicant," will take effect on January 1, 2018.  Meanwhile, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's veto of a similar bill, which would bolster equal pay provisions and prohibit salary history inquiries, was challenged in a veto override session but failed to garner enough votes.  On the municipal side, the Albany County, New York legislature voted unanimously to adopt a salary history ordinance that will take effect this month unless vetoed by the county executive, while the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations has adopted regulations interpreting Philadelphia's salary history ban measure, which is on hold pending the outcome of a legal challenge.

Paid Leave (Washington, D.C.; Albuquerque, NM; New York City; Illinois)  After passing its universal paid leave law, the District of Columbia Council is actively considering amendments to the funding scheme to ease the burden on employers.  Rather than fund the benefits through a 0.62 percent tax increase on D.C. businesses, as initially planned, the Council is exploring alternatives, such as a public insurance program funded by contributions from both employers and employees.  The New York City Council passed a bill (Int. 1313-2016) that would broaden the existing Earned Sick Time Act to offer "safe time" to victims of "family offense matters," which is defined to include offenses such as disorderly conduct, harassment, sexual abuse, stalking, and human trafficking.  This proposed ordinance passed unanimously and awaits action by Mayor Bill de Blasio.  An Illinois proposal (SB 2242) would amend the Employee Sick Leave Act to enable individuals to use their personal sick leave benefits for time taken off under the state's Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA).

Ban-the-Box (California, Rhode Island)  California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1008, which will add a section to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) containing new state-wide restrictions on an employer's ability to make pre-hire and personnel decisions based on an individual's criminal history, including a significant and far-reaching "ban-the-box" component.  Rhode Island, on the other hand, slightly relaxed its ban-the-box regulations.  The amendment to the regulations (SB 1029), which took effect October 5, 2017, permits an employer to include on an application a question about whether an applicant has ever been convicted of any offense that a federal or state law or regulation makes a mandatory or presumptive disqualification.