On August 1, 2016, Massachusetts enacted the Pay Equity Act (M.G.L. c. 149, §105A), which is intended to make it unlawful to pay men and women different amounts for “comparable work.” While one might have thought that the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act already provided such protections, that law had been interpreted such that it was limited in its application to men and women with the same job titles. The newly enacted Pay Equity Act evaluates whether two positions are comparable by examining factors such as skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. The Act provides an affirmative defense for employers who complete a good faith self-evaluation of their pay practices and make reasonable progress towards eliminating gender pay gaps.
In addition, the Pay Equity Act prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history before a job offer is made. Employers should ensure their application forms are updated.
Also, it is now unlawful for employers to prohibit employees from sharing wage information with coworkers.
The Pay Equity Act goes into effect January 1, 2018 so employers have plenty of time to evaluate their hiring and wage practices, and to adapt them if necessary.