On August 1, 2016, Massachusetts became the first state to bar employers from asking job applicants about their salary history before making a formal job offer that includes compensation. Under the new law, employers may not seek information about an applicant’s salary history from the applicant or his or her current or former employer unless the applicant voluntarily discloses such information or gives the prospective employer written authorization to obtain such information after an offer of employment with compensation terms has been made.
The sweeping measure also expands the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, which prohibits employers from paying any employee less than an employee of the opposite gender for comparable work, in several other important ways.
Claims under the new equal pay law may be filed directly in court, which means there is no requirement to file with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Damages for successful litigants include the amount of unpaid wages, plus liquidated damages and costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
What This Means for Employers
While the new law does not go into effect until July 1, 2018, employers should begin taking steps now to ensure compliance, including the following:
With respect to conducting an internal compensation audit, employers should explore this topic with legal counsel and consider doing so after the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office issues further guidance on the good faith self-evaluation defense.
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