Pay Equity Laws are a Growing Trend Among States

Generally, in the United States, your employer must pay the same compensation — including wages/salary, benefits and bonuses — for the same work regardless of gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability or other protected characteristics. These general protections for equal pay are provided by federal law.

In order to strengthen protection for workers, most states have enacted “equal pay” statutes. There are often stiff penalties for employers who violate equal pay statutes. Indeed, workers who think that their employer is paying them less than other employees doing the same or similar work because of their race or gender or other protected characteristic should seek consultation with an experienced employee rights attorney like the ones at Herrmann Law. You have rights that can be vindicated.

When equal pay laws were originally enacted, they tended to require “equal pay” for “equal work.” However, over the last decade or so, most states changed the standard and began requiring “equal pay” for “substantially similar work.” Often, the statutes limited the comparison between jobs to the same company and geographic location. Now, there is a pro-employee trend towards shifting the standard even further to require “equal pay” for “comparable work.” The concept of “comparable” work is broader and easier to meet than the standard for “substantially similar” work.

Connecticut’s Pay Equity Law

As an example of the new equal pay trend, Connecticut recently enacted a new comparable pay equity law that will be effective as of October 1, 2021. Connecticut changed its equal pay statute so that, now, employers must pay employees the same wages or salary for “comparable” work. The new Connecticut law is broader than the law it replaces and allows a wider pool of jobs to be used as a comparison for what is “comparable” for purposes of setting wages and salary. The new law made other changes too, such as requiring disclosure by Connecticut employers of the range of wages/salary for employment positions that are vacant. The disclosures must be made to both current employees and job applicants.

Under the new pay equity law in Connecticut, employees are entitled to bring civil lawsuits if their employer or prospective employer violates the statute by failing to provide disclosures or by failing to pay the same wages for comparable work. Employers can be liable for actual damages, punitive damages, court costs and the employee’s attorneys’ fees. Lawsuits alleging violation of the new law can be brought up to two years from the date of the violation.

The statutory mandate that employers pay comparable wages/salary for comparable work requires employers to evaluate various factors in determining what is a “comparable” job. Examples include levels of skill, training, work environment and location, specific job duties and whether a given job includes supervisory responsibility and, if so, the number of other employees over which a given employee has supervision. Put in simple terms, job titles are not a sufficient basis for making compensation decisions.

Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at Herrmann Law Today

For more information, call the Employee Rights attorneys at Herrmann Law. If you think that your employer has violated your rights as an employee, call us. We are proven, experienced, employee-focused attorneys representing workers across the United States in all types of workplace disputes. Use our Online Contact page or call us at (817) 479-9229.

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