ULTRINO, HOUSE PASSES LANDMARK BILL TO DISMANTLE THE GENDER WAGE GAP

(BOSTON) – Representative Steve Ultrino (D – Malden) joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing legislation to ensure that both women and men receive equitable compensation for comparable work.

“Pay equity gets at the heart of who we are as Americans,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-

Winthrop). “I want to offer my sincerest thanks to the legislators who have raised their voices and tenaciously pursued this issue for decades. Your work will shape a better and more just future for women in the Commonwealth.”

“In adopting these new protections and policies, our state is taking a big step forward in eliminating the gender wage gap and towards helping women across the state earn their fair share,” said Representative Steve Ultrino. “I was proud to co-sponsor this legislation, and am proud that we were able to make this historic landmark that will serve as a model for states around the country.”

Massachusetts will be the first state in the nation to adopt a provision that would benefit all workers by preventing employers from requesting salary history in hiring, a measure designed to end the self-perpetuating cycle of wage disparity. However, prospective employees would not be barred from voluntarily disclosing their past salaries.

The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in the payment of wages for comparable work unless the variation is based upon a mitigating factor including seniority (provided that paternal, family, and medical leave don’t reduce seniority). This is a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue; education, training or experience, allowing women to have the same pay as men for the same standard of work.

In drafting this bill, the House of Representatives focused on building consensus to ensure that the legislation would be workable, effective and sustainable. The key effort to defining “comparable work” helps determine how much each individual gets paid regardless of their gender. The bill incentivizes companies to correct compensation disparities internally before going to court by creating three-year affirmative defense from liability. Within that time period employers must complete a self-evaluation of its pay practices and demonstrate reasonable progress in eliminating pay disparities.

It also:

-       Prohibits employers from reducing salaries in order to comply with law.

-       Prohibits an employer from preventing employees from talking about their salaries.

The legislation will take effect of July 1, 2018.