Maryland Strengthens Protections and Adds Pay Transparency Provisions Under Its Equal Pay Law
Proposals for equal-pay legislation that purport to deal with the main reasons for wage disparities, including secrecy surrounding wages, and deter employers from having to pay unequal wages are rising across the nation. Maryland has became a member of rapid listing of states strengthening equal pay protections for workers. On May 19, 2016, Governor Hogan signed the Equal Purchase Equal Work Act (“the Act”) into law amending Maryland’s existing equal pay law in 2 significant ways: (1) it expands and strengthens prohibitions on discriminatory pay practices, and (2) it adds pay transparency protections broader than individuals found underneath the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).
While not discussed at length below, the Governor also signed an invoice into law creating the same Pay Commission to amongst other things, “continually assess the extent of wage disparities according to race, sex, or gender identity and also to “establish a mechanism to gather data from employers” to help the Equal Pay Commission to judge wage disparities. The EEOC has lately carried out an identical effort to include aggregate data on pay ranges and hrs labored towards the EEO-1 information collected, starting with the September 2017 report. The suggested changes were printed within the Federal Register on Feb 1, 2016.
The Act, that is effective on October 1, 2016, expands protections for workers within the following ways:
Expanded Protections for workers against Discriminatory Pay Practices
- Add protections based on gender identity. Additionally towards the protected group of “sex,” the Act specifically provides that employers might not discriminate against employees within their pay practices due to an employee’s “gender identity.” Maryland’s Fair Employment Practices Act (“FEPA”) also specifically covers “gender identity,” and also the Act adopts this is of “gender identity” within the FEPA.
- Broadens the phrase “same establishment.” Instead of searching in the location where the worker activly works to see whether a pay disparity exists, all an employer’s locations inside the same county will constitute the “same establishment” for purpose of figuring out when the employer discriminated against an worker in pay.
- Expands the phrase “employer.” Together with any “person involved in business,” the Condition, the counties, and municipal governments, the Act defines “employer to incorporate “a individual who functions directly or not directly within the interest of some other employer by having an worker.” This might encompass, for instance, a recruiting firm and/or temporary agency that functions “in the interest” of the employer.
- Prohibits employers from discriminating by supplying “less favorable employment opportunities” according to gender identity or sex. Underneath the Act, a company might not:
- Assign or direct an worker right into a less favorable career track, if career tracks can be found
- Neglect to provide details about promotions or advancement within the full-range of career tracks that the employer offers or
- Limit or deny an worker of possibilities that will well be available as well as the employee’s sex or gender identity.
The Act also expands the exceptions that may take into account variations in wages. Current law provides when a pay disparity exists due to a seniority system, a merit increase system, shift differentials, or jobs that need different skills and/or abilities, that disparity might not constitute a breach from the law. The Act adds the next exceptions:
- a method that measures performance according to quality or volume of production, or
- a genuine factor apart from sex or gender identity, including education, training, or experience, so long as the factor isn’t:
- according to or produced from a gender-based differential in compensation,
- is job-related with regards to the positions and in line with business necessity, and
- the factor accounts for the whole differential in pay.
New Pay Transparency Protections
If decisions through the National Labor Relations Board haven’t convinced Maryland employers that employees’ discussions about wages constitute protected activity, the Act removes question. The Act is broader compared to NLRA since it protects all employees, not only individuals employees who’re supervisors as based on the NLRA. Similarly, federal contractors must adhere to the Pay Transparency Order, that was effective on The month of january 11, 2016. Such as the Act, the Pay Transparency Order protects all employees.
The Act causes it to be illegal to have an employer to:
- stop an worker from asking about, discussing, or disclosing their wages, or even the wages of some other worker,
- stop an worker from asking the business to supply a reason behind why their wages are positioned in a certain rate or salary,
- require an worker to sign a waiver or any other document that denies the worker the authority to disclose or discuss their wages (clearly this encompasses employers’ policies and handbooks), or
- take a bad action against an worker for:
- asking about another employee’s wages,
disclosing the employee’s own wages,
discussing another employees’ wages if individuals wages happen to be disclosed under your own accord,
asking a company to supply a reason behind the employee’s wages, or
aiding or encouraging another worker to workout their legal rights underneath the Act.
The Act enables employers, however, to determine an itemized policy governing reasonable limits around the time, place and manner for discussions about wages and, a company may discipline an worker for violating that policy. For instance, a company could legitimately institute an insurance policy that limits worker discussions of wages to off-duty hrs.
Furthermore, the pay transparency provisions from the Act don’t affect employees who get access to wage data as part of work function – but when, and just if, the worker acquired the wage data included in the employee’s job function – and never from the discussion with co-workers regarding their wages. The main difference might be hard to discern and, thus, employers should tread carefully regarding this “job-related” exemption in the Act’s protections.
Enhancements to Damages and Remedies
A company is going to be found responsible for a breach from the Act when the employer “knew or reasonably must have known” that it is actions violated what the law states. The Act also:Enhancements to Damages and Remedies
A company is going to be found responsible for a breach from the Act when the employer “knew or reasonably must have known” that it is actions violated what the law states. The Act also:
- Gives employees additional time to file for claims. Employees will have 3 years in the date which they receive their final paycheck following termination to file for claims, instead of three in the date which the alleged discriminatory act required place.
- Injunctive relief, actual and liquidated damages. Violations from the Act will subject employers to injunctive relief in addition to actual and liquidated damages for variations in wages that derive from sex or gender identity.
Further, the Act necessitates the Maryland Department at work, Licensing and Regulation, in consultation using the Maryland Commission on Civil Legal rights, to build up educational materials making training open to assist employers with compliance using the Act.
To make sure compliance using the Act, employers should review and revise policies, handbooks, and practices as essential to adhere to the pay transparency provisions from the Act. Employers also needs to consider an audit of pay practices and wages inside the “same establishment” to evaluate whether any unexplainable pay disparities according to sex and/or gender identity exist and think about correcting individuals unexplainable disparities.