HR Policy, Littler Workplace Policy Institute Equal Pay Study Highlights Confusion, Counterproductive Aspects of New State Laws

February 02, 2018

HR Policy released a study this week that examines recent state and local measures regarding equal pay, analyzing the maze of different approaches policymakers have taken and the serious challenges employers face in trying to comply with the various laws.  “The Gender Pay Equity Challenge: A Critique of How States and Localities Are Trying to Narrow the Gap,” was written in collaboration with the Littler Workplace Policy Institute, under the guidance of our State and Local Activities Initiative and Employment Rights Committee.  The study analyzes six legislative trends at the state and municipal levels that are being considered to achieve pay equity between men and women.  Those initiatives include:

  • Broadening the scope of positions to be considered in comparing pay, both functionally and geographically;
  • Limiting employer defenses for equal pay claims;
  • Prohibiting or restricting the ability of employers to consider the pay history of a job applicant in order to eliminate or minimize the effects of prior discrimination;
  • Expanding the penalties or remedies for equal pay violations;
  • Imposing new requirements on employers to increase pay transparency and assist with targeting potential violations; and
  • Providing safe harbors for employers that engage in certain preferred practices.
The paper highlights the steps employers are taking, apart from any legal requirements, to establish and maintain a workplace that not only treats employees fairly but also recognizes the role many working parents play in running a household and raising a family.  It also emphasizes that, in addition to minimizing the effects of discrimination, the furtherance of education, training, and occupational development of women is critical to any long-term solution to the gender pay gap is. This is particularly true of investments that increase the representation of women in occupations and positions that involve higher levels of compensation.  The proliferation of an increasingly complicated patchwork of laws stretching from coast to coast can actually hinder these goals.  HR Policy President and CEO Daniel Yager said, “No one seriously disputes that women and men should be paid equal pay for equal work.  America’s employers work in good faith to follow this growing patchwork of equal pay laws.  However, HR Policy Association’s members report that it is becoming almost impossible to monitor, operate within, and comply with all of these complex and varying regulations.”